Mia's Heart


Page 23



“Particularly when Dante is around,” Reece interjects.

“But this will blow over,” Dante adds. “It always does. By this time next week, the gossip sites will be on to something else.”

“You’d think that with all the real news with the earthquake, they’d report about that,” Quinn mutters. “Not some teenagers at a party.”

“I couldn’t agree more,” Dante answers. “But these websites are toxic and gossipy. They don’t care about the real news. They just want things that will make people’s tongues wag.”

“Like Mia standing in the sea topless,” Quinn rolls his eyes and I cringe at his words.

“Please tell me that they didn’t get a shot of my girls,” I plead. And by girls, of course I mean my boobs. Reece looks pained.

“Well, your girls are blurred out. But yes. It’s clear that you’re topless.”

I cringe again. But there’s nothing to be done. The damage is already done.

I square my shoulders.

“Okay. I’m putting it out of my mind,” I announce. “So what if half of Caberra has seen my girls now—I’ve got to think about other things. Are you guys going to the benefit tonight at the Old Palace?”

They all nod. I turn to Reece. “I’ve got to go get a dress. Are you up for a short shopping excursion?”

“Of course,” she answers. “I have to get a dress, too.”

“Perfect,” I smile. Dante is already handing over his car keys, the ever-perfect, ever-dutiful boyfriend. He pulls Reece to him and kisses her on the forehead, warning her to be careful on the curves. She smiles sweetly and tells him she will. And then she takes the curves too fast, anyway.

Twenty minutes later, we’re shopping. Which is apparently one thing that hasn’t changed about me. I will always love to shop.

* * * * * * * *

At 5:45 p.m., I’m standing in front of the mirror in my room. I look pretty hot, I have to admit. My hair is pulled into a chignon and I like the way the pink streaks show. My dress is black and soft and clings to my curves, falling just above my knee. My shoes are kick-ass three inch heels with cute straps that criss-cross part-way up my calves. I’m even wearing a strand of my mom’s pearls. She was incredibly and amazingly happy about that. I wonder if I used to realize how little it would take to make her happy?

When it’s time to go, Dante, Reece, Quinn and I pile into Dante’s Maserati. Quinn and I are crammed into the backseat, which seems even smaller than it normally would because Quinn is so enormous. He takes up way more than half of the space. He just sprawled out and then laughed at me because he had pinned me against the seat. But if I’m honest, I will admit that I enjoy being crushed up against him.

He grins down at me, almost as if he can read my mind.

And I can see that he’s enjoying the cramped quarters too. He stretches his arm out behind me and I curve into his shoulder.

And I like it.

I’m not gonna lie.

Dante drives quickly into town. Like, bat-out-of-hell quickly. And that is too quickly because I’m enjoying the heat from Quinn’s body. Reece cringes as we cruise smoothly through the curves, but I don’t blame her. It’s where Dante had his car accident last summer.

I pause.

Did someone tell me that? Or was that a memory? I sigh. It’s confusing sometimes. This amnesia thing really, really sucks. But it does seem like my memory is coming back in bits and pieces.

When we arrive, I can see Dante’s security detail following us. They’ve been really good about trying to be inconspicuous. But in light of the assassination attempt last year, they are being very careful now. Particularly tonight, with all of these people swarming about. They aren’t letting Dante out of their sight.

“I’m going to find my father,” Dante says. “I’ll meet up with you later?” I nod and Reece leaves with Dante. The security detail follows. Quinn and I are left alone.

Again.

I look at him.

Then I look at the lines waiting to get into the Old Palace’s ballroom.

“I know a short cut,” I tell him. And then we both stare at each other.

“You do?” Quinn asks, one eye-brow raised. “And you remember it?”

“I do,” I confirm in a whisper. “I remember it.”

The weird thing is that the memory just sort of appeared. It didn’t spring out of nowhere with a big announcement. It’s like it was just there, waiting for me to realize that I remember it.

So.

Strange.

I turn to Quinn. “Yes. I do remember,” I repeat. “Follow me.”

And we duck behind the lines and through the back hallways. Security lets us pass because they recognize me.

“Have a good evening, Miss Giannis,” one of them says. He nods at me and I smile back. Quinn and I weave through the empty halls of the Old Palace.

“This building is amazing,” Quinn tells me as we walk through a corridor with a gilded gold ceiling. The artwork hanging on the walls is authentic and expensive and there is exquisite art in every nook and cranny.

“It is,” I agree. “It really is.”

I wonder if I used to be blasé about it. After all, I was born and raised around this stuff. But I enjoy seeing the wonderment on Quinn’s face as he takes it all in. I hope that I remain like he is right now—appreciative of the beautiful things in life, no matter how many times I see them.

Even if my memories come back.

The ballroom is decorated to the nines in silver and black decorations. I see Dante and Reece standing with Dimitri Giliberti toward the front of the room. He is in a military uniform with a sash, his typical formal dress.

And again, that is something that I suddenly remember as though it has been there all along.

Which it has.

I just didn’t remember it until now.

I gulp.

My memories returning sporadically and without warning is a total mind bender. Seriously, I can barely wrap my mind around it.

So instead, I choose to ignore it.

“Would you like to dance?” I ask Quinn.


He stares at me hesitantly.

“What?” I cajole him. “The big brawny cowboy can ride a bull but can’t dance?”

And now he rolls his eyes.

“Is that a challenge?”

“Does it seem like a challenge?” I ask innocently.

He sighs and grabs my hand. “Come on, tiny tot.”

I smile victoriously as he leads me onto the polished dance floor. The crystal chandeliers sparkle above us and servers in black-tails and white gloves sail through the crowds with trays of champagne.

Quinn pulls me to him and we smoothly dance around the ball room floor. I look up at him.

“You’re a surprise,” I admit. “I figured you couldn’t dance.”

But then again, I figured he didn’t own a pair of dress shoes, either. He’s sexy as hell tonight in a tux and polished black loafers. What is it about a tuxedo that can make a boy go from handsome to movie star hot in two seconds flat? My heart flutters as Quinn grins at me crookedly.

And that’s another thing. My heart has been doing a lot of fluttering lately, mostly over this crooked grin of his.

“I can most certainly dance,” he tells me needlessly. And I say needlessly because he is demonstrating that fact right now. He can most certainly dance.

His arms feel really good wrapped around me. I almost sigh because this moment feels pretty perfect. The music is soft and soothing, Quinn is handsome and strong, and I am pressed against his strong chest. He smells delicious. I could go and on about why this moment rocks.

But unfortunately, it doesn’t keep rocking.

Because as I look up, I see Gavin. He is standing casually with Dante and Dimitri, with a champagne glass dangling loosely from his fingers at his side. He is the picture of casual elegance—as if tuxedos were invented to be worn by him. But I’m not distracted by how handsome he is. Because the look on his face startles me.

He’s upset.

With me.

That is apparent. I stare into his dark eyes and he looks pointedly away. And he stays looking away. He doesn’t glance back at me. My stomach sinks like a rock.

“Is something wrong?” Quinn asks, as he stares down at me. I shake my head.

“No. I mean, yes. Maybe.”

He stares at me again, his blonde eyebrows furrowed as he tries to figure me out.

“I’ll be back, okay?”

He nods and releases my hand and I scamper through the crowd to get to Gavin. But when I reach the spot where he was, he isn’t there anymore.

“Mia!” I hear Reece call to me. I gaze around and find her in the crowd and she is gesturing wildly toward something behind me. I turn and see Gavin disappearing into a hall. I’m after him like a shot.

I call out for him, but he doesn’t stop.

So, I do the only thing I can think of to do.

I chase him.

I have no idea how he manages to stay so far ahead of me when I am running and he is walking. It’s like something out of a bad horror movie. I just can’t seem to catch up. I trip along in my heels until I finally get smart enough to take them off. And then I trip along after him barefoot.

But finally, he takes pity on me

As he reaches a door that opens to the outdoors, he turns. He is tall and lithe and handsome and he doesn’t want to be with me. That much is apparent.

“What do you need, Mia?” And he sounds weary.

I’m confused.

“Why are you running from me?”

He smiles a small, tight smile.

“I’m not running. I’m walking. You’re short enough that you have to run to keep up.”

“Details,” I sniff. “Why wouldn’t you stop?”

“Because I don’t want to talk to you right now,” he answers simply. And that answer hurts. Because out of everyone in my life, Gavin has always been there for me.

“Why?” I ask softly.

“Because,” he shrugs. “I don’t want to right now.”

“But why?” I demand. “You have to have a reason.”

“Because I just realized something,” he says. And his voice is cool and his eyes are a bit sad. It makes me apprehensive and scared to ask. But of course I ask anyway.

“What did you realize?”

Gavin is quiet as he stares at me. And the serious and slightly sad expression on his face scares me because I have never seen it before.

“What?” I blurt out. “What is wrong with you? What did you realize?”

Gavin sighs.

“I realized that you have never looked at me like you were looking at Quinn just now. And you probably never will.”

And then he turns around and walks into the night.

And I am stunned.

Because I think he might be right.

Chapter Nineteen

I have no idea if he is right or wrong or what. But it doesn’t matter. Because the look on his face was so horribly sad that I just want to wipe it away.

“Gavin, please—wait!”

I chase after him and tug on his arm. He doesn’t even look at me as he stops by the pool. He looks achingly handsome in the light of the moon. The water moves next to us in aquamarine ripples and I stare into his face. I find that I want to reach up and stroke his cheek or wrap my arms around his shoulders or hug him tight. But I restrain myself.

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