Content warning: This chapter has sexual themes in the text (no nudity this time, though). Also, this entire chapter is shameless fluff.
Gina was up before Enzo. It was early enough that the sunlight falling in through the windows was still warm and golden. She blinked the sun out of her eyes and rolled over to look at his sleeping form. He slept so soundly that even placing a kiss on his forehead didn’t result in anything but him stirring and then continuing to sleep sweetly. She couldn’t bear to wake him, because she knew he rarely slept like this. Instead, she shimmied out of his arms and went to shower and get dressed
When she came back and sat down in bed next to him, she could tell he wasn’t asleep any longer. His breathing changed subtly when she sat down next to him. Gina smiled and reached out to stroke his cheek.
“I convinced myself it was a dream,” he said as his eyelids fluttered open. “Felt like one.”
“Unfortunately not. You really lead me astray.”
Enzo grabbed her around the waist and pulled her close to kiss her. It was a long, lingering kiss that made all her nerve endings sing.
“I had no choice,” he said as he drew back his head. “If you had any idea what you do to me…”
Gina smirked, noticing the physical effect their closeness was having.
“I have some idea,” she said with a smirk.
He grinned his stupid, handsome smile and she covered it with another kiss, one that soon turned deeper and hotter when she started moving against him. Enzo snuck a hand under her top to cup her breast and she responded by pulling it off entirely. Gina stopped his roaming hands by grabbing his arms and pinning them over his head. The look in his eyes was almost enough to drive her over the edge.
“Something wrong?” he asked, voice teasing. “I thought you liked it.”
“I was going to take you to breakfast, I’ll have you know,” she said, “and now I can’t because I’m forced to have sex with you again.”
Enzo snorted. “And we can’t have that.”
He tried to get his hands free, but she held him down.
“Not yet,” she whispered. “Unless you want me to let go.”
Slowly, he shook his head.
“Good. Because right now, you’re all mine.”
His eyes glowed and he said: “I know.”
It wasn’t so much breakfast as lunch by the time they got out of bed and walked towards town. Enzo was nervous at first. His own clothes needed a wash and so Gina had found a white T-shirt and shorts for him to borrow. Shorts. If his sister and dad disliked him in jeans, they would never forgive him for the ripped denim shorts he paraded around town right now. Not to mention the sandals. He had tried convincing Gina he could use his own shoes.
“Honey, it would be mortifying if you wore shoes and socks with shorts. Not on my goddamned watch.”
So she got her way, but then other worries made themselves known. What if he were seen? Monte Vista wasn’t as packed with people from the higher echelons of society, but they still came here. Hell, his own father had a house in the town and he knew others did as well.
He tried to keep the worry down as they strolled towards the town centre, but Gina still noticed. They stopped at the side of the road and she demanded that he tell her what was wrong. When he told her, she shook her head with a sigh.
“So what if you’re seen? You don’t want to be seen with me?”
“No,” he said. At her expression, he corrected: “Yes, I do! But it… no, not like this. I mean, not because you’re not beautiful but… oh for heaven’s…”
“Try again,” she said, giving his hand a squeeze.
Enzo took a deep breath and tried: “If I’m seen by someone from our circles, everyone will know within a day and that includes my father and sister. They won’t like this.”
“So what? You like it, right?”
For a second, she looked down and the expression on her face was vulnerable. He mentally chided himself for worrying her because he could practically hear what was going through her head—she was scared that it was all just a game to him and that he was about to go full Doriano.
“Of course,” he said, putting sincerity behind his words. “Gina, I said I’m in love with you and that’s true, but…”
He winced, realising that but was the wrong word to say at that instance. However, he pressed on:
“But my family aren’t going to care how in love I am. Last time I was with you, I nearly got kicked out and I can assure you that my father’s reaction will be the same now. Except this time he’ll probably both kick me out, get me fired from my job, and make sure that I never work as a lawyer again.”
Gina shook her head. “He wouldn’t… would he?”
She looked as though she couldn’t imagine a father ever doing that to his child, and she probably couldn’t. From what he knew, she was close with her father—Enzo, in turn, couldn’t imagine how that must be.
“He would,” he assured her.
Their hands were still clasped, but now hers hung limp in his. Enzo held his breath.
“But then this… what about this?” she finally asked, tugging on his hand. “This is just a one-night stand? Because then—”
He put his hands on her shoulders before she could work herself into a rage.
“No,” he said firmly, cupping her cheek with one hand.
“But you just said…”
“I need time,” he said.
He had turned it over and over in his head before falling asleep and he had come to the conclusion that he couldn’t give her up. Not after last night. Eventually, he would have to settle down with someone and he couldn’t imagine being with anyone but her… so he needed time.
“I’m the only male heir my father has left,” he explained to Gina, stroking her cheek with the tip of his thumb. “So if he wants me to carry on the bloodline, he has to learn to live with you. But that’s unlikely to happen if he finds out through rumours. It has to come from me and I need time to get him used to the idea that you’re sticking around.”
Gina was silent for a long time, looking down at some place on his chest. For a breathless minute, he thought she was going to turn around and leave in disgust, but at last she moved. She stood up on tiptoes, wrapped her arms around his neck, and kissed him. How it was possible to stand by a street in the sun and still feel cold chills, he would never understand. Finally, she broke the kiss, but she stayed in his arms.
“That’s the stupidest plan I’ve heard since your last stupid plan,” she said. “Not to mention, you sound so sure that I’ll stay with your sorry ass long enough to marry you and have your babies.”
“What? No, I didn’t mean…” He let the words trail off. That was exactly what he had meant.
Great, Enzo, why not plan the wedding and name the children, while you’re at it.
He froze to the spot, waiting for her to tell him he was a delusional idiot, but instead she kissed him.
“You’re lucky I actually like your ass,” she said with an amused expression, and he was flooded by relief. “As for marrying you and having your babies, you at least don’t snore, but let’s find out if you eat with your mouth open before I decide on anything.”
She stepped away, took his hand, and tossed her head towards the town centre. When she sensed his nerves return, she said, gently:
“I know a place none of your rich buddies visit. You won’t be seen.”
The place was an old haunt of Gina’s dad, a restaurant and café that the gang did favours for and had for longer than she had been alive. She had briefly considered taking Enzo to her uncle’s—another place the rich would stay clear of—but bringing her secret lover to meet her family the morning after their first night together might be a little much.
Besides, this place was just that little bit shadier and it seemed to calm Enzo down. Their little breakfast date suddenly got business relevant, as if the universe was trying to show him just how unlikely it would be to meet a rich person. When the server brought their pancakes, she slipped Gina a note that told her they wanted a meeting. A local rival was doing a little too well—could the Good Guys perhaps take care of them?
“Enjoy your meal and well, if you have time…” said the woman, letting the words hang.
“Thank you,” Gina said. “I’m coming over with Lotta tonight and we’ll look at your problem.”
Once she was out of earshot, Gina looked over at Enzo, who studied her with a soft gaze.
“What is it?” she asked, reaching over to touch his hand.
“I just sometimes forget that you’re… you. The leader of a gang.”
Gina gave his hand a squeeze, then started piling pancakes and blueberries on her plate. He stirred his cappuccino thoughtfully and once she was done, he helped himself to the food as well.
“Does it bother you?” she asked.
He shook his head immediately. “It probably should, but no. I’m curious about the things you do. That’s why I met up with you back when we were young and it’s why I tried to steal a car, I guess.”
“And here I thought you met up because you thought I was hot.”
Enzo shot her his stupid, handsome grin. “Hey, I never said that didn’t play a part. It did.” She felt a chill roll down her spine at the way his eyes moved over her body now. “But I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to learn to pick a lock. I still know how.”
He nodded and leaned over with a conspiratorial smile. “I would sometimes pick the locks to rooms that were supposed to be kept locked and it drove everyone up the wall. They had no clue how those locks kept failing.”
“I knew you weren’t an honourable man,” she said.
“You’re probably right. Between you and me, I didn’t stop until they started changing the locks. That…” He laughed and scratched the back of his head. “That made me feel a little guilty.”
Gina rolled her eyes. “Imagine that. You, feeling guilty.”
He shrugged. “It happens.”
She picked up her fork and stuffed her mouth with pancakes. They were always amazing here—warm and fluffy with fresh berries that exploded with sweetness. After a little while she noticed Enzo wasn’t actually eating, but looking at her with an amused smile.
“What?” she asked with her mouth full.
“We’ve never eaten together so I didn’t realise you were so… ravenous.”
“I like food. Who doesn’t?”
“Nobody else I know eats like that.”
Gina raised her eyebrow. “Are you telling me Ms. Antonini doesn’t stuff her face every chance she gets? Impossible.” She took another mouthful.
“Are you serious? You can’t ‘stuff your face’, as you say, when all they serve is finger food. Same goes for the dinner parties we attend. The portions are so small, it’s just one mouthful that you wash down with a thimble of champagne.”
“The lifestyle of the rich and famous,” she said sardonically. “Where’s the excess? I know I’m not poor or anything, but if I had your kind of wealth, I’d buy ten thousand cupcakes for each party and I’d probably end up eating half myself.”
“You like cake, huh?”
“Of course I do. My uncle even has this nickname for me that—” Gina stopped herself and felt her cheeks grow hot. “I mean, I like it, yes.”
But Enzo’s eyes suddenly shone.
“Oh no, no, I heard that. What nickname?”
“It’s…” She shook her head.
Enzo grabbed her hand and pressed a kiss to the knuckles. His gorgeous, blue eyes grew pleading and she realised in annoyance that it would be damned easy for him to get his way if he just looked at her like that.
“Please, Gina,” he said. “You don’t have to keep secrets from me.”
“Cupcake. He calls me… Cupcake.” His eyes twinkled but she held up a hand before he could say anything: “If you start calling me that I will shoot you.”
They left after eating and ambled around town hand in hand, pleasantly full and drowsy. Where the clouds parted, the sky was so blue, it hurt to look at it and Gina couldn’t help but note that the colour was a lot like Enzo’s eyes. His eyes, in turn, shone as though they were trying to take on all of it, trying to look more wonderful than anything they passed on their walk.
In a contest between him and nature, he won out in her mind. At least her eyes were mostly on him, even when he pointed something out or asked a question, she liked it better when she looked at him looking at something. She knew Monte Vista like the back of her hand, but he didn’t and seeing it through his eyes made her aware of how much she loved her town. And it made her aware of badly she was falling for him. For this version of him, the version who had bright, curious, inquisitive eyes and a serious enthusiasm about seeing new things.
They settled into the long grass on top of a hill. Gina laid back, lounging in the long grass, while he stayed seated. He chuckled when their eyes met.
“What?” she asked.
“It’s the grass,” he said. “It feels weird.”
Enzo had never looked less like Vincente Cavalcante VII in his life; in the simple, white shirt and sandals, with the boyish smile, he was a different person.
“You’ve never done anything like this, have you?” she asked.
“You mean, sitting outside like this? No. The closest I ever got was when Lorenzo’s family convinced my dad to let me go to the beach with them and…” He frowned. “Well, let’s just say that was a disaster.”
She raised an eyebrow. “How so?”
“I got heatstroke because I wore too much clothing and after that father never let me go again. He didn’t want me to embarrass myself.”
“He’s got a weird idea about what’s embarrassing.”
Enzo shook his head. “I passed out. That’s embarrassing.”
“No it isn’t,” she said. She sat up and looked at him with a frown. “The fuzzy, yellow sweater I wore for picture day once was embarrassing. Passing out is an accident. A medical emergency, even.”
He changed in an instant. He withdrew his eyes and looked like he usually did. Emotionless and distant. Thankfully, it was only a second, then he let out a breath he had been holding and looked at her.
“We’re from very different families.”
He manoeuvred himself around and put an arm around her.
She smiled, doing her best to put the moment out of her mind. He had baggage, she told herself, but he was in love with her and that was all that mattered. The person he had been around his family was only a front he put up, because he had no choice. This was the real him.
“Very different,” she conceded.
They sat in silence. The crown of the tree overhead rustled in a light breeze, making splotches of light dance on Enzo’s face. Despite the short moment of doubt, she thought it was remarkable how thoroughly the bad feelings between them had been dismissed. Like they had said goodbye after kissing and then met up eight years later on this day and picked up where they left off. It made something ring in her mind.
“There’s something I meant to ask.” He nodded for her to go on. “You didn’t really stay into me for eight years, did you?”
He lifted a hand to brush a lock of hair from her face.
“As a matter of fact, I did.”
“Uh-huh,” she said with a raised eyebrow.
“I mean it. All this time, I never met anyone else who made me feel this way and I never forgot you.”
Gina moved out of his arms. “Okay, but nobody does that. It’s been eight years.”
“What? That can happen.”
“Look, it’s cute and romantic, but you’re clearly just telling me what I want to hear. Don’t come here and say you didn’t fuck someone else. I know you did.”
He blinked. “How?”
“I’ve slept with virgins, Enzo, and you are not one. You know where to stick it.” She laughed when his face reddened and she continued. “I don’t mind, really. And it’s sweet of you to say that you thought of me, but seriously, I was surprised you even recognised me when you caught me at your dad’s.”
Enzo was quiet for a while, then he drew in a breath and said:
“Yes, I slept with a couple of women. Happened while I was at university.” She was about to gloat, but he stopped her with a hand to her lips. “They were meaningless one-night-stands. I never fell in love, because I always compared every woman I met to my first love. You. I would have recognised you from hundreds of metres away.”
“Eight years, rich boy,” she said, though her throat constricted a little, making her voice come out low and hoarse. “That’s a hell of a long time.”
“It is, but see… Some might call me sheltered,” he said and he grinned at the understatement. “Before meeting you, the only girls I met were from my own circles. They’re distant and constantly fighting to put their best face forward, to never embarrass their families or themselves, lest they get disinherited and kicked out. Imagine only knowing that and then suddenly meeting someone like you.”
He touched her cheek and looked at her with blue eyes full of reverence. “Imagine what it was like for a sheltered teenage boy to see you come waltzing out in your nightdress and schooling me on stealing cars. You blew my mind. You still do.”
Gina tried to say something, but the sincerity in his eyes made it impossible. It was as if the moment was fragile and her opening her mouth would ruin it. He continued:
“I’m not saying I thought about you every day. I was busy feeling guilty, after all, but… you were always at the back of my mind. And then when you appeared, well, I hired you. I didn’t need to. I shouldn’t have, but I… I wanted to. I wanted to see you. I want you.”
As he spoke, he moved closer and closer until their lips met. Gina’s chest filled with sunlight. Enzo drew back, his mouth hovering near hers and his breath was shallow, coming in warm bursts against her lips.
“Let’s go back home,” she said. “I don’t want to get arrested for public indecency again.”
Enzo grinned, then he stood up and pulled her to her feet. They were halfway home when he stopped, her earlier words suddenly dawning on him.
“Wait, what do you mean arrested for public indecency again?”
“Let’s just say there’s a reason I think your dad has a strange idea of what’s embarrassing.”
He frowned. “What did you get arrested for?”
“I can’t tell.” She put a finger to his lips before he could protest. “I’ll show you. Once we get home.”
Author’s note: Hi guyyys, and welcome to fluff. So much fluff. Not going to lie – I enjoyed writing this to an absurd degree. It’s just way too rare that I get to write cute couple-y stuff. 🙂 I’m also pleased because I’m further exploring my editing software (Affinity Photo, if you’re curious) and I’m really pleased with how it works. You might also notice that these pictures don’t have the usual border. That’s because I was starting to regret using it. It’s cool and all, but I feel like it takes attention from the pictures, so instead I’ve decided to have these simple, rounded corners and I made a little border template for featured images. I already hate the inconsistency, but I like the clean look, ha, ha. 😀 You may also have noticed that there are some rather long stretches of text in between the pics and that’s because of the increase in time I spend editing. I hope that my pics being nicer will make up for the fact that there are fewer of them. 🙂
Another little thing I’d like to bring attention to is my new character page on Tumblr. It’s a great piece of code made by another Tumblr user, which I then copied and adjusted. It has info on most of the characters from both generations of Monte Vista Stories, as well as the towns in it (so far, it’s just Monte Vista and Collesena). You can sort it with handy tags and everything, so I hope you’ll find it interesting as it has a few new tidbits about minor characters. 🙂
Now then, with all that rambling out of the way, I thank you guys for reading along and wish you a great weekend. I’ll see you in the next post.