Mia's Heart

Page 18

“I know, little Sunflower,” he tells her. “And you get grumpy when you’re jetlagged. That’s why you should go to bed now. You’ll feel better in the morning.”

She growls, but it is a harmless, delicate growl. I give her a hug and tell her good night and then they are gone. Quinn and I are the only ones left and I stare at him.

“So, you really passed out when they took your blood?” I ask curiously. I’m trying to imagine this giant of a boy fainting. His hands are so big that it seems like he could palm my head if he wanted to.

He grins ruefully.

“I went down like a rock,” he admits. “Does that ruin your macho image of me?” He’s still grinning, totally unconcerned. He knows that it doesn’t ruin anything for me. If anything, it makes me like him even more.

If that is possible.

But I tell him exactly the opposite.

“Of course it does,” I tell him laughingly. “I’ll never look at you the same.”

He is unconcerned as he moves closer to me. I take a whiff of his shirt as he leans in. Big mistake, because now I can’t concentrate on what he is telling me. His man-smell has my hormones tap-dancing.

“Well, do you want to?”

Quinn is looking at me and I have no idea what he asked me. My attention was distracted by my stupid tap-dancing hormones.

“I guess,” I tell him, secretly praying that I’m not agreeing to do something horrible.

He looks at me in amusement. “Well, don’t get too excited. But I think a walk would do you some good, out here in the fresh air. And of course, there’s me. I would do you good, too.”

I suck in my breath and he laughs.

My hormones do jazz hands.

And then Quinn pulls me to my feet.

We walk through the gardens and I can’t help but notice that he hasn’t let go of my hand. His is huge and strong and has callouses on the fingers. My heart speeds up; fast, faster, faster until I can hear it roaring in my ears. As he guides me over a loose stone tile, I am pressed against him and I stare up at him, his eyes frozen on mine.

Time seems to stop.

I can count my heart beats.

Everything is a blur.

He bends his head.

His lips meet mine.

My mind gets blown.

For real.

He pulls away and stares down at me, his gaze intense and dark and smoldering.

Yes, smoldering.

I urge myself to remember to breathe.

He grins. And my knees weaken.

“So, you don’t feel the need to meow now? I’m not a pussy…cat now?”

“No. You’re more like a lion,” I tell him.

Then I grin and kiss him again. We kiss for quite a while, actually, until my hands are clutching his back and I am gasping for breath.

When Quinn finally pulls away, he looks satisfied.

“Ready to walk?” he asks casually, as though he hasn’t just addled every wit that I have by playing tongue twister in my mouth. I nod silently, not really trusting my voice.

Quinn is a fantastic kisser.

That much is true.

We walk in the moonlight for a half hour or so. Quinn tells me everything that he’s learned about the estate since he’s been here, things that I should know but don’t. He shows me the building where I normally work. He shows me the factory buildings where the gourmet olive oils are made. And then we make the long walk back to the house.

I walk slowly because I don’t want the evening to end.

He walks me to my room and kisses me yet again.

And I definitely don’t want him to leave, but obviously he has to.

After I go inside my bedroom, I have to lean against the door for quite a while before my shaking knees feel strong enough to walk to my bed.

I meow at myself.

Because I totally deserve it.

Chapter Fifteen

I dream about Quinn.

And then I dream about Gavin.

Why do they both have to be such amazingly awesome kissers?

Why do I have to be so freaking indecisive?

Why is my heart so clueless?

Oh My Word.

When I wake in the morning, the sunshine is cheerful, but I’m not. Because I feel like an utter loser. I kissed two sexy guys in one day. And I honestly don’t know which kiss I enjoyed more. There’s clearly something wrong with me.

I jump in the shower and then get dressed.

And then I text Reece.

Want to go into town with me?

She answers back immediately. Sure. Where are we going?

To fix my hair, I text her.

She answers with a smiley face and I’ll be there in five.

Reece is literally in my room in five minutes. She looks at me and smiles. She looks fresh and cute in a pair of cut-off jean shorts, pony-tail, snug t-shirt and a pair of cowboy boots.

Yep. Cowboot boots.

With shorts. And she totally pulls it off.

“What color are you thinking?” she asks as we wind our way downstairs.

“I don’t know,” I muse. “Pink?”

She grins again. “Pink has always suited you.”

My mother is in the dining room having breakfast and I bend and kiss her cheek. I ignore the startled look on her face and tell her that I’m going to town.

“We’ll be back in a bit!” I tell her over my shoulder. She’s still too surprised by my display of affection to say anything.

Reece has Dante’s keys to his fancy Maserati. I decide he must love her a lot to let her drive this car. It has so many bells and whistles that I can’t even figure all of the buttons out. I settle into the passenger seat as Reece drives the curvy roads into Valese. I also commend her on figuring out all of the buttons on this dashboard.

“I grew up driving farm trucks,” she tells me conversationally. “It took a while to get used to driving Dante’s car because it’s just so nice. But that’s not a problem that you have. Your little car is really nice, too. And it’s what you learned to drive on. You never had to learn on a three-on-the-tree old truck.”

“Three-on-the-tree?” I ask. She nods.

“It’s an old fashioned stick shift. You shift the gears on a shifter on the steering column, instead of on the floor. But once you learn on something like that, you can pretty much drive anything,” she tells me cheerfully. “So it was probably a good thing.”

“I don’t know if I’ll remember how to drive,” I tell her. “I haven’t tried since the accident.”

“That’s okay,” she answers. “We’ll go get your car later and give it a try.”

I smile at her because she really is trying to make my life normal. She doesn’t even act afraid to be the one with me when I try to drive. She’s brave. So I tell her that. She laughs.

“No, brave is waking you up before 10:00 a.m. Driving with you was always a little terror-inducing, so I’m used to it already.”

I roll my eyes and laugh and we’re in town before I know it.

I stare out my window, watching the buildings that pass by. I keep thinking that if I look at things that I should know hard enough, I’ll recognize them. It hasn’t happened yet, though. Reece parks and we stroll down the main strip. Cute boutiques line each side of the cobblestone street. People swarm in loosely woven crowds on the walk. I feel like some of them stare at me.

“Do you think they know me?” I ask Reece. She shrugs.

“Probably. I’m sure they know who you are.”

It’s hard to ignore the stares, but I give it my best shot.

“I wonder how much money I have?” I muse curiously. “I mean, I have a credit card in my purse, but I don’t know how much I can spend on it.”

Reece giggles. “I don’t think it’s something you have to worry about,” she answers. “You used to go on crazy shopping sprees and never even blinked. I’m pretty sure you just use your credit card and then your dad pays the bill.”

I nod. “Okay.” That seems awfully nice of my father. I’ll have to remember to thank him.

Reece pulls me into a trendy little shop and I find several cute outfits. Leggings and mini-skirts, flowing shirts, chunky jewelry. I can’t decide which one to get, so I get them all. I need clothes anyway. Most of mine were destroyed in the quake and I don’t like what my mom bought for me. I never knew there were so many shades of beige in the world.

Reece looks over my haul in amazement.

“What?” I raise an eyebrow. She shakes her head.

“Nothing. There’s just not one black thing in the bunch.”

That is interesting. “I guess maybe I didn’t like wearing black so much as I liked the reaction I got from it,” I muse. “I don’t know. But I don’t feel the urge to buy it now.”

“That’s fine,” Reece assures me. “You should buy what you want. And apparently, your gut is telling you to buy a lot of hot pink.”

I smile. “I want to accessorize with my hair. Which reminds me, we need to go have that done.” I keep one of my new outfits on, complete with a cute pair of canvas sneakers and fingerless gloves. I feel trendy and sort of skater-chic.

Reece leads me out and down the street to a little spa. I don’t have an appointment, but once I tell them my name, they fit me right in. Apparently, Dante’s not the only one around here that gets special treatment. Hmm. Perhaps being the daughter of the Minister of Defense comes in handy. Except for when people stare at me in public, that is.

Within a couple of hours, my hair is two shades darker with hot pink streaks threaded through it. I stare in satisfaction in the mirror.

“I love it,” I assure my stylist. “It seems so cheerful and happy.”

Reece smiles at me. “You look like yourself again—but with different clothes. I love the new look, Mia.”

“So do I,” I tell her happily. “I feel like I’m on the way to figuring out who I am. Whoever said retail therapy doesn’t work is insane.”

“I agree. It works like a charm for me every time. Are you hungry? There’s a bunch of little bistros and cafes down the street.”

I nod. “I’m famished. Spending money apparently works up an appetite.”

She links her arm through mine and we make our way to a little area on the other end of the street that is surrounded by restaurants. There is an open air seating area in the middle, apparently shared by all of the bistros. We grab a sandwich and then head for a table.

And as we walk, I hear a tinkling, familiar laugh.

I turn my head and find Elena.

And she is sitting on Gavin’s lap.

I freeze, my feet unable to continue walking.

Elena is perched delicately against Gavin’s chest and she is giggling into his ear. He is laughing too, because Gavin is almost always laughing. He seems perfectly happy to have her on his lap, pressed against him. He is definitely not making any move to get her off. He seems to be enjoying himself, actually.

Reece is staring too.

“Um…” she stutters. She has no idea what to say.

“It’s okay,” I tell her. “Seriously. I don’t own him.”

But it feels like someone has impaled my heart. And I don’t even know why. I truly don’t own him. He owes me no explanations. But it feels like he just yanked my heart out and drop-kicked it.

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