Authors: Demelza Watts
t was late
the following Friday morning and Mia called Nico’s car phone. “Hey Nico, Hi Amber. How’s the journey going?”
Nico had surprised Amber with a weekend trip to a spa hotel in the Cotswolds.
“We’re good, sis. Another half hour and we’ll be there. What’s up?”
“Oh good, glad you’ve almost reached. I just wanted to let you guys know that I’m going home for the weekend. Managed to get a flight for this afternoon.”
“Milan or Como?”
“Mamma and papà will be at the Lake for the weekend. I think they have dinner plans with friends on Saturday night but anyway, I could really do with a change of scene.”
“I think that’s a great idea, Mia,” Amber chimed in, “you’ve worked incredibly hard this past week on the dresses. You deserve a rest.”
“Thanks, Amber.” She smiled through the phone. “I’m really pleased with how everything is going and we’re actually ahead of schedule…my temporary assistant, Kate, from the agency has been a God-send.”
“I’m so happy to hear that. Don’t forget, you have your date next Tuesday with Jonathan.” Amber giggled, excited at the prospect of setting them up together.
“I won’t forget. I’m looking forward to it too. Sorry I had to reschedule this week.”
“Oh, it’s no worries.” She laughed. “I’ve assured him you’re worth the wait.”
Mia laughed along with her. “Okay guys, have a great time. I’ll be back late Sunday evening.”
“Ciao, sis. Safe flight.”
Mia grinned, shaking her head at Amber’s comment. The past week had flown by. She refused, as much as possible, to let Gino invade her thoughts and distract her with every waking hour. Beth’s wedding dress was a priority and she deserved Mia’s undivided attention with its creation. She was also really enjoying the process and if all worked out as well as she hoped, she was planning on adding a bridal line to her collection.
Last night, she had spoken to her mother who had subtly picked up on Mia’s defeated mood. She had suggested coming home for the weekend and on the spur of the moment, Mia had agreed, thinking she’d like nothing better than to see her parents.
A few hours later, she had boarded her flight and relaxed into her seat, closing her eyes and thinking of the weekend ahead as the plane took off.
he must have fallen
asleep for some time for, when she opened her eyes, she became aware that they would soon be landing at Milan Malpensa. Nico had texted her a couple of hours ago telling her that his driver would be collecting her at the airport so she wouldn’t have to take a taxi.
Walking out of the terminal, she immediately spotted their driver by the curb with the black town car. He grinned when he saw her and approached her to take her small carry-on bag.
“Ciao, Mia! Good flight?”
“Ciao, Frederico. Si, good flight, grazie.” She smiled as she sank into the soft leather seat. It felt good to be back home, she couldn’t wait to see her parents shortly.
nother ninety minutes later
, they arrived at the house in Lake Como. It was quiet at this time of year, but in a few weeks, the villages would once again be buzzing and busy with the craft markets and festivities leading up to Christmas. She thanked Frederico for the ride and then walked up to the door. Noting she had forgotten her keys, she quickly rang the bell, shivering in the cold air.
A few moments later, the door was swung open and her mother, Annalisa, embraced her. “Mia, I’m so glad you came. Thanks for the call en-route. Come, we’ve been waiting for you to start supper.”
Mia grinned and placed her bag down as she followed her mother through to the kitchen in the back of the house.
“Ciao, papà!” Mia grinned as her father wrapped her up in his arms, giving her a warm hug. He kissed her and then held her at arm’s length, his brows knitted.
“Have you stopped eating, Mia?” He frowned as he looked at her.
“Um, no?” Mia smiled sheepishly, aware that she had indeed lost a few pounds this week.
“Hmmm. Okay. Well, Maria’s prepared a feast for us tonight, so you better be hungry.”
Mia sniffed the air and the smell of chicken permeated her nostrils. As if on cue, her stomach rumbled and they all burst out laughing. “I guess I am hungry!”
They enjoyed a wonderful meal together as Mia caught up with her parents. She spoke to them weekly, but hadn’t seen them since her mother’s birthday party just over three months ago. She enjoyed their cozy night together, but soon, the warmth coming from the wood-burning fireplace had her stifling her yawns.
“You look so tired, sweetheart. Why don’t you call it a night?” Her mother looked at her tenderly as she lightly stroked her face. The idea of getting into her warm bed was very appealing — her mother was right, she was so tired. Both emotionally and physically.
“Sounds good, mamma. Are you around in the morning?”
“Si. I thought perhaps we could go out for breakfast together?”
“Oh that’s a great idea. I’ve really missed my chocolate pancakes — I still can’t find a match in London.” She grinned in anticipation.
“Buonanotte.” She hugged and kissed her parents goodnight.
After brushing her teeth and sinking into bed, Mia checked her phone for messages. She listened to the voicemail from her assistant assuring her that everything was on track and wished her a wonderful weekend. She felt reassured and then listened to the next message. Her heart began to pound as she heard Gino’s voice, low and husky.
“Mia. I’m trying my best to stay away from you…but this…this is fucking torture.” And then he hung up.
Her eyes immediately filled with tears, vividly picturing his face as she once again, replayed the message. She deleted it and flung her phone onto the bed. He was thousands of miles away, thinking of her and there was not a damn thing either one of them could do about it. Violent sobs racked her body as she muffled the sound against her pillow. It was a long time until her heavy eyes succumbed to sleep.
a hand gently rousing her from her sleep. Opening her bleary eyes, she looked into her mother’s concerned face.
“Mia? It’s past ten o’clock. You still want to go out for breakfast?”
Mia rubbed her eyes and blinked a few times. “Ten o’clock already? Sorry, mamma, hadn’t realised it was so late.” She sat up, pushing the hair out of her face.
“It’s okay, cara. You look like you needed the rest. Besides, we must talk.”
“Talk?” Mia looked at her confused. “Sure. About anything specific?”
“Get dressed, Mia and come downstairs when you’re ready.” She patted her hand, smiling. “I’m worried about you.”
Mia watched as her mother left the room and then dragged herself out of bed. The warm spray of the shower helped to relieve the knots in her neck and she slowly felt her body begin to relax. Afterwards, she quickly got dressed and lightly blow-dried her hair. In the distance, she heard the rumble of thunder and, looking out of her window at the dark clouds, which were quickly gathering, she smirked, thinking about how the weather mirrored her mood.
Mia found her mother relaxing in the sitting room, so she poured herself a cup of coffee and went to join her on the sofa.
“Looks like the heavens are about to open, mamma.” She looked out of the window as the first drops of rain began to fall.
“Yes, it’s meant to rain all day according to the weather report. Is it okay with you if we stay and have breakfast here? I’ve already asked Maria to prepare some pancakes.”
“Of course. I don’t particularly want to go out in this weather either.”
The two women enjoyed their breakfast together and her mother filled her in on some of the renovation plans they were considering for the spring.
After breakfast was tidied away, Annalisa took Mia’s hand in hers.
“What’s troubling you, Mia? I may be old, but I recognize the signs. A man has got you all twisted up like this, si?”
She looked at Mia earnestly, waiting for her answer.
Mia slowly nodded, looking down. Gino’s voicemail replayed in her ears and her breath caught in her throat.
“God, it feels like all I do lately is cry.” She angrily dabbed the corner of her eyes.
Annalisa pulled her against her and began to stroke her hair. “I can’t bear to see you in so much pain, Mia.”
Mia nodded against her, feeling comfort in her mother’s arms. She couldn’t help the tears that freed themselves once again as she sobbed against her. Annalisa whispered words of comfort as she held her child, waiting patiently until she was ready to talk.
Slowly, Mia pulled away. “It’s Gino, mamma. We’ve been in love with each other for quite some time.”
Annalisa’s eyes lit up and she broke into a smile. “Mia, that’s wonderful! Your father and I have wondered over the years when you two would finally see each other.”
Mia smiled sadly. “But we can never be together.” She proceeded to tell her mother the entire story, including Gino’s fear of associating herself with his name.
Annalisa sat silently, waiting for her to finish. “Dio Mio.” She shook her head. “That poor boy.”
Mia glanced at her mother. “Poor boy? Why?”
“Mia, he has had such a rough childhood. We know of things that happened between his parents that both you and Nico have no knowledge of.”
“But I thought you were friends with his father?”
“No, cara. Not after how he treated Gino’s mother. But we tolerate him just so we can keep an eye on Gino — a promise we made to his mother when she began to worry about the threats his father made against her.”
Mia sat stunned in silence as she processed the information.
“I’ve seen that boy fall in love with you, Mia. And I hate to think how he has denied himself happiness just because of his father’s name. Both of your happiness. And now he’s got himself into this mess with Louise.” She picked up her coffee and took a sip, obviously just as distressed at the news.
“He said he’s going to marry her, mamma. I asked him why but he said he refuses to have a bastard child – in his own words.”
“Our men are very stubborn, Mia.”
They talked for a while longer, Mia hoping her mother would come up with some sort of miraculous plan. Annalisa then asked a few questions about Louise.
“Mia, tell me, did Gino say much about this Louise?”
“No, nothing. Just that he had met her once that night.”
Annalisa nodded. “And forgive me for asking this, but he told you he was drunk when he spent the night? And that she said the condom split?”
Mia flushed, embarrassed with the conversation, but nonetheless nodded. “Yes, that’s what he told me. Why?”
“Well, I’m not sure but it doesn’t feel right.” Her mother frowned and looked deep in thought. She picked up her phone and dialled Mia’s father.
“That’s exactly what Beth said. What are you thinking?”
Annalisa held up her finger. “Just a second. I need to ask your father something.”
Mia raised an eyebrow. She could hear her father’s voice greeting her mother.
“Ciao Gianmarco, a quick question, per favore. Are you still in contact with that PI you have used on occasion?”
She listened as her mother spoke in Italian, briefly filling him in on Gino’s situation. Satisfied, she hung up a few minutes later.
“Mamma, what’s going on?”
“Mia, your father is going to put his PI onto this girl, just to dig around a bit as we think we should look a little closer into her background. Everything may check out perfectly, but I’d rather be sure. You must promise though, to never breathe a word to Gino, si?”
Mia spoke softly. “Are you sure we should do this?”
“I know it may seem a bit much, cara, but it’s just for peace of mind.”
Mia considered it for a few minutes and then agreed. Her parents were right — there was no harm in finding out the truth–- she couldn’t hurt any more than she already was.
the rest of the day with her mother. The storm eventually blew away and a token gesture of sunshine came through in the afternoon.
Both Annalisa and Gianmarco had a charity event to attend that evening in Milan so Mia lounged on their bed, flicking through a magazine as she watched her mother get ready. She looked up as Annalisa gave her a little twirl.
“That dress looks amazing on you.”
“Grazie, cara. I love this new design you made for me. I’m thinking I should order one in every colour.” She laughed as she reached for her heels.
Soon they were ready to go and Mia wished them a good evening, waving goodbye as they were swept away in the limo.
Closing the door, Mia decided to watch a movie. She wasn’t particularly hungry and warmed up a bowl of soup which Maria had prepared earlier, along with a freshly baked roll. She considered calling some friends to see if anyone was around for the weekend, but then just as quickly, decided against it. She wasn’t the best company at the moment. It was still early evening, so Mia put on a light hearted movie and laughed her way through the romantic comedy. It felt good to laugh again and, for those minutes, she felt the vice loosen around her heart.
After the movie finished, Mia felt like taking a long, warm bath. She grabbed her e-reader and sank into the warm water, the scented oil and bubbles fully relaxing her. She must have got carried away with her book for she suddenly realised the water was almost lukewarm. Shivering slightly, she stepped out of the bath and wrapped herself up in a warm and fluffy towel. She took her time applying her favourite moisturising lotion all over and then slipped into her silk nightie for there wasn’t any point in getting dressed again. Reaching for the matching dressing gown, she padded downstairs to watch a little more night-time television.
Just as she turned it on, she heard the sound of the doorbell. Feeling slightly alarmed, she wasn’t aware that her parents were expecting anyone at this time. Nervously, she pulled her robe around her and cautiously walked to the front door and peeked through the spy hole.
It had started to rain whilst she was in the bath and standing there, getting soaked, was Gino.
Shocked, she quickly unlocked the door.
“Gino! What…what, are you doing here?” She stammered, in utter disbelief.
He looked at her helplessly as the raindrops poured down his face. His shirt was nearly soaked, sticking to his perfectly contoured chest. He looked unfazed with the rain as he shrugged helplessly at her.
“I don’t know, Mia. Nico told me where you were. I know I shouldn’t be here, but I had to see if you’re okay?”
In a daze, Mia pulled the door open and ushered him in out of the rain. He shook his head, getting the water out of his eyes. Mia found her feet and silently went to bring him a towel.
“Thanks.” He gratefully took it and ran it over his hair. Mia watched silently, her hands aching to reach out and touch him, to run her fingers through his damp hair.
“Your shirt is also soaked,” she blurted and then flushed, looking away.
His eyes darkened as his gaze bore into her face and then slowly moving over her body.
Mia self-consciously tugged at her gown, awareness spreading throughout her body as her nipples began to harden under the thin material.
Slowly, he began to unbutton his shirt. Mia’s mouth fell open and she gasped. “What are you doing?”
“Like you said, I’m soaked, Mia. Can I put this in the dryer?”
“Oh, er, yes, sure.” She couldn’t pull her eyes away from his perfectly chiseled body. His abs were waves of muscle, his chest smooth and perfect with well-defined arms. Forcing herself to look away, she felt desire flood through her body.
She flicked her eyes to his as he held his shirt.
“Here, let me take that.” Without meaning to, she grabbed it out of his hands and quickly walked to the utility room. Taking a few breaths, she put it into the dryer and soon the noise drowned out the thundering of her heart.
She walked into the kitchen and filled up the kettle, making two cups of tea whilst she thought about what to say to him.
“Ah, there you are. I was beginning to wonder.” He smiled as he stood up from the sofa, taking the steaming cups out of her hands.
She sat down next to him, making sure to leave some distance and trying her best not to stare at his perfect torso. “Gino. Why are you here?” She looked at him with pleading eyes, the torture of not being able to have him, to touch him whilst he was so close, proving unbearable.
He picked up his mug and took a sip of tea. Running his hands through his hair, he looked straight ahead.
“I don’t know what to do, Mia. I can’t bear it. I can’t bear this situation. I can’t stand it.”
He turned to her, anguish and frustration in his eyes. He was so close she could still faintly smell his expensive cologne and a shiver ran up her spine.
As if under a spell, his gaze was once again drawn to her lips and he slowly closed the gap between them.
“Oh, Mia,” he whispered.
She felt no power over the pull she was feeling, drawn to him in every way even though a distant and foggy part of her brain tried to scream its resistance. She watched as in slow motion, he bent toward her, closing his eyes to gently sweep his lips over hers. A weak gasp escaped her as she stiffened, knowing that this was wrong, but at the same time, unable to pull away. He drew her close with a raspy groan and with a fierce hold, he cupped the back of her neck, kissing her deeply, gently and possessively all at once. Crushing her soft body against his hard chest, he twined his fingers in her hair, desperate to explore.
Mia felt explosive currents race through her body as she gave in to her desire, moaning into his mouth as she wrapped her fingers around his neck. Her kiss was just as demanding, weeks of pent up frustration being released as she expertly rivaled his mouth. Gino groaned and with a heated shudder, he gripped her arms and pushed her back onto the sofa, his breathing ragged as he held her against him.
Mia looked into his heated eyes, grey pools of desire and felt his warm breath against her face as he whispered in her ear.
“Oh, God, Mia. I’ve wanted to do this so badly.” He licked and nibbled her ear, trailing hot kisses down her neck and along her collarbone.
Unable to resist, Mia’s eyelids fluttered to a close and she moaned with wild abandon, arching her back as her nipples strained for release through the thin material of her nightie.
Sensing her need, Gino lowered the straps and gently covered her nipple with his mouth, tugging and licking. Ripples of pleasure zinged throughout her body as moisture soaked her panties. His big hand cupped her breast and Mia revealed in the scrape of his calluses against her sensitive skin. He turned his attention to her other breast and rolled her nipple between his two fingers adding a whole new level of sensation over anything she had ever felt before.
Gino groaned and lifted his head, nipping her lips until she opened up to him again. His tongue swept inside to duel with hers as they both lost themselves in the moment, neither wanting to break the spell. Mia felt one of his hands skim down her body to slide along her hips. She loved the feeling of him running his hands over her and he was just about to touch her thigh when she heard a loud ringtone and realised it was his phone vibrating against her in his pocket.
At that moment, reality struck and, horrified at what they were doing, Mia abruptly pulled away.
“Oh my God, Gino! What are we doing?”
The damn phone kept ringing and Gino blinked as he slowly sat up, pulling it out of his pocket. Mia glanced at the caller display and her hand flew to her mouth as she scrambled to sit up, noticing Louise’s name across the front.
His face darkened with anger and he angrily rejected the call. They sat in silence for a few moments. Gino hung his head in his hands. “Forgive me, Mia.” He spoke softly. “I’m so sorry.”
“I think you better go, Gino.” Her voice was shaky as she stood. “Let me go and grab your shirt.”
He nodded numbly and stood, making his way to the front door.
She returned a few minutes later and held it out to him, making sure to keep her distance and expertly averting her eyes.
“Mia.” His voice was broken. “I should stay away from you. I just keep hurting you. Hurting us. I swear, I never planned this to happen.”
She nodded silently as he opened the door. He reached down and gave her a kiss on her cheek, lingering for a moment longer than necessary before he quickly pulled away.
Mia shut the door behind him and listened to the sound of his car pulling away, the tires wrestling against the gravel as he made his departure.
She was angry and ashamed for giving herself so readily to him, but as she thought of his kisses and touch, her face flamed once again with desire and her body throbbed with need and pent up frustration. She could still faintly smell his cologne on her skin as she sank to the floor and brought her legs up to her chest. Tucking her head between them, she sobbed for a man she could never have.
ianmarco and Annalisa
arrived back home just before lunchtime the following day. Eager to spend their last day together, they booked a table for lunch at Mia’s chosen restaurant. Mia tried her best to keep up with the conversation, omitting the part about Gino’s visit. Later, she hugged and kissed them goodbye before she set off for the airport.
“Remember, Mia, not a word to Gino about the PI, okay? We’re hoping he will have some information for us within the next week or so.”
“Of course, mamma. I promise, not a word, but please keep me informed of developments.”
good few hours later
, Mia entered her flat in London, shivering as the heating was left on a low setting. She quickly turned up the thermostat and stood under the hot spray of the shower to take away her chill. Exhausted from the travel and lack of sleep from the previous night, she crawled into bed, tucking herself under the warm covers. Thankfully, her mind had seemed to shut down as well and she fell into a deep and dreamless sleep.
the next day at the studio, throwing herself into work, working alongside her assistant, Kate. It was after two o’clock when she finally came up for air and decided to take a short stroll to the nearest cafe.
Sipping on her soup, she decided to call Amber to check on her weekend.
“Hey Amber, can you talk?”
“Hi Mia, sure. Give me a sec, let me walk to the kitchen area.”
Mia listened to the muffled sound of Amber’s footsteps as she sipped another spoonful from her soup.
“Hi, I’m back. Sorry, it’s unusually quiet at work and I didn’t want anyone overhearing our conversation. So, how was your trip home?”
Mia flushed as images of herself and Gino together on the sofa flashed through her mind. Thankfully, Amber couldn’t see her red face. She cleared her throat. “Um, yeah, it was great, thank you.”
“Oh, what did you do?”
“Not much…the weather was pretty bad, so I stayed in most of the time.”
“Oh that’s a shame. I hope you weren’t too lonely on Saturday night whilst your parents were out?”
Mia nearly spat out her soup. “What?”
“Your parents were out for a charity event, right?” A beat. “Everything okay, Mia?”
“Yes, yes, fine. Sorry, my soup went down the wrong way.”
“Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine. Anyway, how was your weekend?”
Mia could picture the dreamy smile on her lips. “It was divine. You, Beth and I must go back sometime, the hotel was so pretty. And the spa was amazing, honestly, the massages are to die for.”
Mia smiled, listening to Amber gush about her weekend. “Sounds lovely, it did look beautiful on the website. I’m glad you guys had fun. So, besides the weekend, I’m wondering what you think I should wear tomorrow night for my date with Mr. eye-candy?” Mia giggled, excited at the prospect of having a distraction from Gino.
“Something hot, Mia. I’m sure you’ll look great anyway. Have you and Jonathan decided where you’re going yet?”
“Si. We’ve agreed to meet for drinks in Soho first. Depending on time, we may move onto dinner but decided to keep it open for now.”
“Good plan. And besides, you can always drop-call me if you need an excuse to end your date.” Amber laughed at the other end.
“Thanks, bella. Okay, I better run, need to get back to the studio.”
“Call me first thing on Wednesday.”
Mia smiled. “Will do, bossy-boots. Ciao, Amber.”