26. Dinner again
I couldn’t help but think about the last time I had gone out to dinner with Vincent. Whilst we had enjoyed each others company to a point, I could only think of how things ended. Perhaps jumping out the bathroom window hadn’t been my best idea.
I nervously fingered the necklace as I walked with Gianna towards the lounge which was adjacent to the yachts exit to shore.
She was saying something but I wasn’t really listening. I had been slightly nervous when we had gone to dinner last time, but for a different reason. Last time I knew I was planning to escape. This time I knew I wasn’t. But this time I wasn’t sure what Vincent was expecting from me. What he thought I would be. A friend, a romantic encounter, something more or something less. It was the not knowing that always made me nervous. It always had. I was a control freak, that much I knew. Since my fathers arrest, nothing had been in my control. I surmised that Vincent was probably a control freak too. Now he wasn’t in control either. That in itself should have given me some comfort, but it didn’t. I wasn’t sure why.
Two people who liked to be in control, but neither of whom were. It sounded like a recipe for disaster. Perhaps in some bizarre way it would be a recipe for success.
When we entered the lounge, Vincent stood there next to his father. Seeing them stand side by side, I could now see the resemblance.
Armando looked like an older version of Vincent.
Gianna let go of my arm, and I walked towards the two men.
I swallowed nervously, and forced a smile.
Both men smiled, as they watched me walk towards them.
Armando motioned with his finger.
“Turn around, Piccolina. Let me see.”
I turned around nervously.
“Bellissima!” he extolled.
Then he looked across at Vincent.
“Don’t you think, mio figlio?” [my son]
Vincent looked at me and nodded.
Then he took my hand and pressed his lips to the top of it.
“Indeed,” he whispered, looked at me through hooded eyes.
Vincent released my hand, and put his hand into his jacket pocket. He pulled out a box.
“For you, Rosie. An early birthday present.”
I looked at the box, then at Vincent.
“I...Thank you,” I mumbled, slightly shocked.
“Open it then, Piccolina,” Armando urged.
I glanced between the two men, the I opened the box.
I stared at the contents in awe.
It was a gold necklace. Two dolphins formed a heart, and nestled within was a large sapphire.
“It’s lovely but I can’t...” I began.
“Nonsense,” Vincent interrupted, “its the least I can do, now let me help you put it on.”
He reached behind my neck, his fingers gently brushing the skin, as he undid the small diamond silver necklace he had given me before. I felt my skin heat up. If he noticed he didn’t say anything.
He slipped it into his pocket, then pulled the gold and sapphire necklace from it’s box.
“There,” he whispered, as he replaced the old necklace with the new one.
Gianna who had been silent, stepped forward and took the box from my hand.
“Let me take care of that, now off you two go,” she smirked.
Vincent held out his arm, which I took. He lead me from the lounge, and out into the cool night air, as we headed towards a large limousine.
The limousine drove slowly as we left the dockside. It was a far cry from the previous drive in Vincent’s Ferrari. But like the previous drive I had no idea where I was headed.
Vincent opened a small compartment and retrieved two glasses of champagne.
He passed me on of them and smile as he raised his glass.
“To new beginnings,” he toasted.
I raised my glass as his gently clinked against my own.
I took a sip. I had never had champagne before. I wondered if this was the sort of thing I should be getting used to. Limousines, designer clothes, champagne?
I was under no false assumptions that Vincent wanted more than just friendship. What if I rejected him? What then? Did I want to reject him?
The voice in the back of my head scolded me for overthinking. If this was a normal date, with anyone else I would just enjoy it, and see what transpired.
But this wasn’t just a normal date, with a normal person. This was a man who was old enough to be my father, who had stolen my first kiss, who had kidnapped me. The truth was though, I quite liked him, and we had just toasted to new beginnings. I would just have to see how things progressed. If they didn’t work out, if I decided against pursuing something more with Vincent, I just hoped that Armando wouldn’t hold it against me. I had a funny feeling that the rest of the family would be quite pleased if Vincent and I could work through our history, and come out the other side.
I hadn’t really been paying attention to what was outside the car, when it stopped. Vincent took my glass from me, and put both mine and his to one side.
“We’re here,” he stated.
Vincent didn’t open the door, the driver did, and held it open.
Vincent got out of the car, and offered me his hand, which I took.
I gasped as I looked at the building in front of me. It was a far cry from the tiny bistro in Sicily where we had eaten dinner before.
Vincent gently put his hand on the small of my back, as he guided me into the restaurant.
A maître d’ stood at the front. When he saw Vincent, he beamed.
“Mr Marchesi, it’s an honour,” he enthused.
He snapped his fingers, and a young man ushered us to a table. Unlike the last time when only Vincent and I were dining, this restaurant was literally heaving.
The restaurant was split in two halves, the dining area, and across the other side a bar and a large piano. To the side of that a small dance floor.
“They know you?” I half questioned, half remarked.
“They should,” he chuckled, “we own it.”
I glanced around again. Armando had been telling the truth about how they made their money.
“I’m surprised they could fit you in...at short notice I mean.”
“Perks of being the owner,” he smirked.
When the menu’s came, I was relieved that they were in English. At least this time I would know what I was ordering. Vincent ordered the wine. This time I didn’t comment on me being underage. Mostly because it didn’t seem uncommon that the legal age for alcohol consumption was a lot younger in Europe than in the states. That wasn’t to say I was planning on getting drunk. I also hoped it wasn’t Vincent’s plan either. Somehow I don’t think Armando would have approved if he did.
The food was wonderful, somehow I didn’t expect anything less in a restaurant owned by Vincent or his family.
“You own restaurants all over the world?” I asked.
“The family does. It keeps them on their toes if we drop in occasionally. Do you have an interest in food? Something you perhaps want to do when you finish school?” He questioned.
I shook my head, and took a sip of wine.
“I’ve not really thought about it,” I confided.
His hand reached out and touched mine, and he smiled softly.
“You should,” he whispered, “everyone should have a dream.”
I didn’t pull my hand away. His touch was so gentle, and I liked it.
“What about you?” I asked, “did you have a dream? Or perhaps you still do?”
Vincent looked at me and smirked.
“Oh, I definitely do.”
I felt my face heat up again. I was sure he said things sometimes to make me blush. The look on his face told me he found it quite amusing.
Vincent moved his hand from mine, then held it out palm upwards, invitingly.
“Will you dance with me, Rosie?”
I stared at him, with surprise. He didn’t strike me as the sort of person who would want to dance.
I glanced over towards the dance floor, and the piano.
The pianist was looking over towards us.
“Did you plan this?” I asked accusingly.
Vincent chuckled, and stood up, his hand still outstretched.
“Would it be such a crime if I had?” he questioned.
I couldn’t help but smile, as I took his hand.
Vincent lead me across to the dance floor, and the pianist started to play a slow tune.
“I didn’t think you would be the sort of person to want to dance,” I surmised.
I felt his hand gently grip my waist. I could feel every touch through the thin material of the dress. I gently place my hand on his shoulder, as we started to move to the music.
“I don’t,” he whispered in my ear, his warm breath on my neck, “unless its with you.”
He took my other hand, and placed it on his other shoulder. Then he placed his other hand around my waist as he pulled me towards him.
He was tall. Much taller than me, so I had to tilt my head up to look him in the eye.
“Is this how people normally dance,” I questioned, a slight smirk on my face.
He smiled at me, his eyes twinkling.
“There’s nothing normal about us,” he concluded.
I wasn’t about to argue, so I just enjoyed the moment.
I wasn’t sure how long we danced for, but I enjoyed every minute. When the pianist stopped, I realised it must have been quite late. I think Vincent realised it too.
“We should head back to the boat,” he concluded.
I nodded reluctantly.
The limousine was waiting outside the restaurant. I wondered if the driver had been there all night. I suspected he had. Just in case things had gone south.
The driver opened the door, and we stepped inside.
The drive back was a little faster. When we reached the boat, Vincent put his arm around my waist as he guided me towards the gang plank.
As we reached the bottom, he stopped, and turned me so I was facing him.
“Thank you for dinner Vincent, and for this,” I fingered the necklace.
His hand gently cupped my cheek.
“No Rosie, thank you,” he whispered.
He leaned into me, and when his lips brushed mine I didn’t resist.
It was a gently chaste kiss.
Part of me wanted more. Did he? I thought he did, but maybe I had read things wrong. Or maybe he wanted to take things slowly, especially after everything that had happened.
Vincent took my hand and guided me up the gang plank.
Once we were on board, he let go of my hand.
“You should head to bed Rosie, its late,” he whispered.
I sighed, but nodded. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting. Maybe Armando had warned him to back off. Maybe he had decided that I was too young. It was probably for the best. Besides, once Gianna’s wedding was over, I would be heading back to Rome, and school. Likely Vincent would be heading back to do whatever work he did. I doubted I would see much of him anymore.