“Go be happy for you. He’ll love seeing you.”
“Are you trying to kick me out of my own condo?”
“Hell yes, I want to use your shower. The spray in there is fantastic.”
I laugh and walk into my bedroom closet, blindly change my clothes, and then scowl when I realize I’m sweaty.
“I should take a shower.”
“Yeah, no man wants to hear his woman say I love you while she smells like a gym rat.”
I stick my tongue out at him and march back into my bedroom, stripping out of my clothes on my way to the shower.
What the hell am I going to do, just show up in his office and blurt out, “I love you! Surprise!”
Maybe I should take him dinner or something. Except, he said he has to work tonight, so that won’t work.
Why am I overthinking this so much? Just go tell the man you love him!
But what if I do, and he just stares at me in confusion. Or worse yet, says thank you.
Dear God, I would die of horror.
Maybe this isn’t such a good idea. I should wait. It’s still early in our relationship. There’s no need to rush this.
You’re my treasure.
Would a man say that to someone he doesn’t love?
I don’t think so.
I turn off the tap, and just as I reach for a towel, there’s a commotion in the living room, and I hear a very angry Dominic yell, “What the ever loving fuck is going on?”
I miss her.
It’s been less than three days since I last held her, tasted her, and I miss her as if she’s a part of me.
Because she is.
I’m tempted to say fuck it and just go to her tonight. Let Celeste handle the event. That’s what I pay her for, isn’t it?
I reach for my cell to text Alecia when my office line rings.
“Salvatore,” I answer briskly.
“Ciao,” my cousin Gianna says in my ear, but I can hear an edge in her voice, with just that one word.
“What’s wrong, bella?”
“I need you here, Dom.”
“You do this every three months like clockwork, Gianna. I can’t just pack up and come to Italy. I have a business here. A life.”
“Marco has been robbing us blind.”
I sit forward in my chair, frowning, sure I’ve heard her wrong.
“You heard me.” She sighs the sigh of one who is bone-tired. “The vineyard is broke, Dominic.”
“A little at a time. I think he’s been gambling again.” I close my eyes and everything in me stills.
That little motherfucker.
“Where is Marco, Gianna?”
“I can’t find him.”
“Son of a bitch!” I pinch the bridge of my nose, already making plans to fly to Italy today.
“Dom, you’re the one that knows figures. You’re the only one who can fix this. I need you here.”
“I’m on my way.”
“Grazie,” she begins, but I cut her off.
“And when I get there, we are going to have a long talk about why it took you so fucking long to call me.”
“Just get here.”
She hangs up, and I’m tempted to hurl my phone across the room, but instead I yell for Celeste.
“What’s wrong?” she asks, as she comes into my office.
“I have to leave for Italy this evening.”
“Is everything okay?”
“No.” I swear and pace behind my desk. “I’ll need you to stay this evening for the event. I want someone here to supervise.”
“I can do that.”
“Good. I’m going up to pack.”
“Do you want me to book the airline?”
“No, I’ll do it. You’ll be able to reach me in Italy if you need anything.”
“How long will you be gone?”
“I don’t know.” I sigh, already sick to my stomach at the mess that awaits me there. “It could be a few weeks. A month at the most.”
“Don’t worry about anything. Everything will be fine here.”
I quickly gather my laptop, iPad, cords and pack my briefcase, pocket my phone and jog upstairs, taking two stairs at a time.
I dial the airline as I unzip a suitcase and begin filling it with clothes and essentials.
I’m an excellent multi-tasker.
“I need to be on a plane to Italy tonight, from SeaTac, first class.”
I can hear the agent get to work, her nails clicking on her keyboard as she works on finding me a flight, and I remember that Alecia tried to call while I was talking with Gianna.
Fuck, I have to tell her I’m leaving.
“I have a flight available at eight this evening,” the agent says.
I check my watch. That gives me an hour to finish up here before I have to leave for the airport.
And I need to talk to Alecia, preferably in person.
Or, I could just take her with me. She has a team of people who can manage her business without her for a few weeks.
I grin as the idea forms in my head.
“That works, but I’ll need two seats, please.”
“I have that,” she responds. I give her the passenger information, pay with my credit card, and finish packing, suddenly excited at the spontaneous trip back home. I’ve been eager to show Alecia where I come from, to see her face light up when she sees my grandparent’s land, or when I take her shopping in Rome.
With renewed energy, I check in once more with Celeste, then head out, driving toward Seattle.
I can’t wait to see her, but first I place a call to Steven.
“Hey, it’s Dom. I wanted to let you know that I’m heading to Italy rather unexpectedly.”
“Is everything okay?”
The concern in Steven’s voice always makes me pause. The way he’s accepted me, so readily, always disarms me.
“No, but it will be. There are issues at the vineyard, and I’m needed.”
“Of course. Be safe, son, and let me know when you get there, and if there’s anything at all that you need.”
“Thank you.” I nod and smile to myself. “I’m taking Alecia with me.”
“Is that so?” I can hear the smile in his voice as well. “So, not completely a work trip, then?”
“No, I want to show it to her.”
“Good for you. Be safe.”
I end the call and immediately call Matt, giving him the same information.