25. A Date
I felt suffocated, stifled. Not because of where I was, and what Armando was trying to do for me. It was mostly because of the realisation of what might have happened if I hadn’t run. If Vincent hadn’t taken me. If I’d let Uncle Daniel...No he didn’t deserve to be called Uncle. No Uncle would do what he’d attempted, and the thought of what might have happened to me if I had been taken by him, rather than by Vincent. Not just that, but I had grown some sort of attachment to Vincent. I was still trying to decipher what that was. Whether it was wrong or right. He was, after all around the same age as my dad.
Then of course there was my dad. Not only had he killed someone, but he was going to hand me over to Daniel, knowing exactly what he was, what he intended.
Then there was me, who’d wanted to quit school and work with my dad. Would I have become a murderer too? Did I have that in me? Or was I more like my mum, who I didn’t know? Not only didn’t I know her, my dad refused to talk about her, why was that?
The longer I was with these people, the more questions I had. I guess it wasn’t their fault that I had been kept in the dark about my mum. Hell I didn’t even know what she looked like.
I sighed, and looked out to sea.
It had the effect of calming me.
I turned away from the handrail and headed back towards the dining room.
Armando was sitting at the table. He hadn’t picked up the newspaper again. Instead he was gazing at the door. Waiting for my return, no doubt. There was no sign of Vincent. Was I disappointed, I wasn’t sure. Maybe a little.
Once I reached the table, I forced a smile.
“Sorry...It all got a little too much,” I mumbled.
He smiled gently and nodded.
“You should try and eat something, it might help,” he suggested.
Before I could answer, he snapped his fingers and a waiter headed over.
“qualcosa di leggero per la signorina, avrò lo stesso,” Armando ordered. [something light for the young lady, I’ll have the same]
The waiter scooted off and returned with two plates of scrambled egg on toast.
Armando nodded in agreement.
He was right of course. I came to the conclusion that this was usually the case. It was my mind which had caused me to be sick. My stomach growled as the food came to the table.
I started eat almost immediately which brought a smile to Armando’s face.
I ate the eggs with relish. If I was honest they were the best I’d ever had. Not really surprising considering how well off this family must have been. I still wasn’t sure that I believed Armando when he told me that none of this was obtained illegally. But then, as far as I knew, he hadn’t lied to me.
I was half way through my breakfast, when Armando spoke.
“There is something you should know, Rosie.”
I placed my fork on the plate of half eaten food, and looked at Armando.
To say I was a little nervous was an understatement. I’d learnt so many things recently, about my family. I just hoped it wasn’t going to be another bombshell.
“In order to keep you safe, I’ve had to take certain steps. With your father being in prison, and you having no other family...” His voice trailed off, and he slid a brown manilla envelope across the table.
I hated this sort of thing. Things that came in brown envelopes were usually official. Usually bad news. Like final notices on bills, my dad had received a few of those.
I took a deep breath, and opened it.
Sliding out the document, which was indeed official. Signed by a judge.
I licked my lips nervously.
“What does this mean?” I asked, my voice cracking.
Armando rested his hand over mine.
“It means piccolina that I will look after you, like a daughter,” he chuckled, “or at my age, like a grand-daughter. You will want for nothing.”
I took a deep breath.
“What about school? Where will I live?” I questioned.
“There is a good English speaking school in Roma. You can board there during the week. At weekends you can stay with me at my villa.”
I nodded, still a little in shock.
“Will I...Can I see my dad?” I asked.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to, but at least I would know if I had the option.
“Perhaps,” Armando replied, “I will see if it can be arranged,” he hesitated, “If that’s what you really want?”
He raised his eyebrows, questioningly.
I sighed, and looked down at the plate of unfinished food. Picking up the fork I pushed some of the uneaten eggs around the plate.
“I’m not sure...” I mumbled, “I just...just want to have the option,” I concluded.
I looked up to see Armando nodding.
“I understand piccolina, but...”
“I know,” I sighed, as I blinked back the tears, “I never thought he’d...”
My voice trailed off, I didn’t even have the words. Betrayal. Was that the word I was looking for. I quickly decided on a change of topic.
“What about Vincent?” I asked.
“What about me?”
I snapped my head around, to see Vincent walking towards the table.
I felt my face flush.
“Perhaps we can discuss it over dinner, tomorrow night?” Vincent suggested.
I looked at Armando, I guessed to make sure he approved.
He just smiled back.
If Armando wasn’t against it, it couldn’t do any harm.
I nodded, “Ok.”
Vincent smiled, “its a date then. We dock in Madeira tomorrow, perhaps you and Gianna would like to go shopping.”
Armando rolled his eyes.
“What are you trying to do, Vincent, bankrupt me.”
Then he chuckled.
“But I can’t deny my two favourite girls a shopping trip.”
I glanced between the two Marchesi men.
“I don’t really need any more clothes. You’ve bought me so many already.”
Armando looked at me and smirked.
“Nonsense piccolina. A pretty girl can never have too many clothes, and Gianna is the perfect person to accompany you. She has an eye for that sort of thing.”
I think Gianna was more excited than I was that Vincent was taking me on a date. Whether it was the date, or the idea of going shopping, I wasn’t sure.
It was only when we stepped off the Marchesi Yacht the following day, that I realised it was likely neither. We both felt good just having our feet on terra firma.
It also made me realise how little I had travelled, as Gianna guided me through the busy streets. I was glad she was there, as she seemed to know exactly where to take me.
What surprised me was how well known Gianna was. The assistants in the shops virtually dropped everything when she walked through the door.
I raised my eyebrows. Was this because she was the daughter of Armando Marchesi, or something else. I quickly realised it was something else.
The something else was that Gianna, was quite a famous Italian fashion designer. Hence Armando saying she had an eye for clothes. Of course she did. She designed them. The boutique where we were shopping even had some of her creations, which even though I was no expert, were absolutely beautiful.
After about two hours of trying on virtually every single dress in the shop, she suggested a particular dress.
When I walked out of the dressing room, for what seemed to be about the millionth time, Gianna gasped.
“Perfetta...Perfect,” she quickly repeated in English, “now we just have to find some shoes.”
I rolled my eyes, but looking at myself in the mirror, she was right. I was perfect. It was black and form fitting. It had a scooped neckline, which wasn’t too revealing, and the long sleeves were made of the finest gossamer black lace. I didn’t even dare to think how much it had cost. Gianna didn’t seem to care. It was like the cost was a mere technicality.
The first pair of shoes she picked out, I immediately shook my head. They were stiletto’s with a massive heel.
“I don’t want to break my ankle,” I scoffed.
Gianna just chuckled.
“I doubt whether papa would approve either.”
She ended up picking out a pair of black pumps with a small heel. I was beginning to think that maybe Armando and I had the same idea about what clothes I should wear.
The outfit was finished off with a very expensive designer clutch bag. Not that I had much to go in it, but still. Trying to argue with Gianna over fashion and shopping was pointless. In the end I gave up.
We headed back to the boat, after what seemed to me to be a marathon.
“We’ll eat, have a few cocktails then I’ll do your hair and makeup,” Gianna stated excitedly.
I rolled my eyes.
“We’re not going until this evening, its barely even lunchtime,” I groaned.
She was having none of it though.
“You want to look good, don’t you?” She nagged.
I sighed, “I suppose.”
“No suppose about it, Rosie,” she scolded, “there is no point buying a beautiful dress, unless you make an effort with everything else.”
I held my hands up in surrender.
“Vincent won't be able to help falling in love with you once I am done,” She bubbled, excitedly.
I didn’t want to dampen her enthusiasm, but I wasn’t sure if that was the general idea. I was beginning to get a bit nervous about this date.