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   Chapter 5 Anniversary

Hidden Away [Mafioso Book#2] By Serena B. Light Characters: 19783

Updated: 2018-10-24 12:23


Serafina found herself embraced in a different sort of warmth, one that didn't feel too much in this June season, but one that was comforting and familiar. She tried to shift onto her back, her movements met my a restraint as she peeked open her eyes, blinking away the blurriness before inhaling sharply at the sight of the tuft of brown hair.

The memories of last night came surfacing back to her, her cheeks flushing red at Paolo's words before he fell asleep.

"I'll marry you someday, Serafina" that is what he had said, and she did not know how to feel about it. He was nice, she wasn't going to deny that, but he was her brother's best friend and another Mafia heir. She wanted to get away from the Mafia, not more into it and besides, she didn't even like him in that sense.

But after his declaration, Serafina wasn't sure anymore in what sense she liked him to begin with because she knew, he wouldn't have made such a statement without having had proof that she likes him just as much as he likes her.

I should never have let him stay in my room, in my bed, in my arms. She worried her lip with her teeth, held in Paolo's sleeping embrace. But what could I have done if not comfort him?

Trying to wriggle out of his grasp, Serafina tried to come up with a way that did not include waking him, he hardly seemed to get any sleep anyway. Lifting his arm off her waist, she slid out from beneath him and replaced her body with a pillow, holding back a giggle to see him snuggle into it.

"Serafina, " A voice called from behind her, her entire body tensing at the familiar baritone of her father.

Swallowing thickly, she slowly turned around to see her father sitting in her study chair, leaning forward with his elbows rested on his knees and looking at her with an impassive mask.

"I-I-I can...I can explain, dad, " She stammered out in fright. "I-It's not what it looks like, "

"I understand that you just want to comfort Paolo, given that he has been an absolute wreck since Ricardo's cancer-"

"-Oh" So that's what he meant.

"You...you do know, don't you?"

"Yes!" She exclaimed a bit too loud, wincing before looking over her shoulder to still see him sleeping. "Well...not really. I just knew Ricardo was sick, I didn't know he had cancer."

Serafina watched her dad sigh and run a hand through his hair, seemingly pondering his next words given the crease between his brows.

"Look, the Costa family is falling apart, and Ricardo is at the hospital getting treatment and doesn't want Paolo anywhere near that stuff, so he's asked us to look after him." Her father began, scratching at his jaw. "And he can have whatever he wants to feel better, but...Serafina, baby, I don't want to be the one to say this...but he can't have you for comfort, that's not how you deal with trauma and recovery..."

"Dad, I'm not fucking him, " Serafina blurted, catching onto what he was saying, onto what he meant. "I'm not, I swear, "

A pang of hurt shot through her to see the uncertain expression on her father's face, wrapping an arm around herself as she shook her head.

"I know how to comfort someone good enough, but I wouldn't give myself to him so that he feels better, I wouldn't degrade myself like that, dad, "

"Then why is he in your room? In your bed?"

"He..." Serafina trailed, uncertain. "He came crying to me last night..."

"Why you? Why not Salvatore? His best friend, literally one door down from you, "

"I-I don't know..."

"You're lying, "

"Seriously, dad, I don't know, " She insisted, despite knowing that Paolo came to her seeking comfort because he wanted to be close to her in his time of difficulty given his feelings for her.

"Come downstairs and have breakfast, " Her stood abruptly from the seat, his harsh tone being enough of an indicator that he didn't believe her.

Sighing in defeat, she shuffled out of the covers, freshening up before joining her family for breakfast, the guilt of lying to her father making the process of swallowing difficult.

Eventually, she found herself sitting cross-legged on her bed, watching Paolo's sleeping figure as it occurred to her that this was the boy everyone knew as the one who constantly smiled and made people feel better. Yet, despite that, they all seemed to forget that if he was raising their spirits, who was there for him when he was down?

Everyone?

Someone?

No one?

That realization had a lump form in her throat as she wondered how he managed to put off the fa?ade of being alright when his father was dying in pain. That thought was further accompanied by the epiphany that she hadn't seen nor heard from Ricardo for a few months, maybe even a year, which got her to think how long cancer must have been going on for.

Serafina felt her stomach twist in knots knowing how selfish they all were, how selfish she was to greedily take in Paolo's comfort and then turn a blind eye to his pain.

Sometimes, the person who has been there for everyone needs someone to be there for them. Someone to simply be there and not say anything or fix anything, but to let them know that they weren't alone and that they are cared for.

Releasing a shaky breath, she closed her eyes before running a hand through her hair, knowing that her brother had been aware of everything from the start, but knew that one person can only do much for an aching being.

Being an only child, it was common knowledge that he was close to both his parents. Now that one of them was dying and the other crumbling before him, who else was left to wipe away the tears and put on a firm front to be the shoulder to cry on?

Paolo, that's who.

And he was only 18.

"Why are you looking at me like that?" His husky voice brought her out of her thoughts as Serafina sat straight.

"Just realized how long your hair is, " She remarked teasingly with a bright smile. "Sleep well?"

Paolo hummed in confirmation before sticking out his arm in her direction. Confused as to what he wanted her to do, she awkwardly grasped his hand in her left and gave it a shake, the boy laughing at her antics before tugging at her. Stumbling on the bed, she landed beside him with an unceremonious 'oomph' as he chuckled and wrapped his arms around her waist, no doubt feeling her tense at the contact since he began to rub gentle circles on her side to coax her to relax.

"I was serious last night, Serafina, " He spoke into her hair, the girl not turning to meet his gaze and instead stared up at the ceiling.

"About?"

"I'll marry you when we're grown up, " Paolo whispered, his lips grazing her ear as she froze in his hold, feeling bile rising at the back of her throat.

He was a Costa.

She was a Regnante.

Despite them agreeing to take care of him, it was only because her father owed Ricardo a favor, nothing more, they weren't allies, not really. And this...this dream...this notion of his...it just could never be.

"I think Salvatore is calling me, " Serafina rushed out, pulling out of his hold and running out her bedroom door before he could even register what had happened.

Closing the door behind her, she walked down the hall and towards the door opposite her parent's bedroom, knocking before entering.

"Serafina?" Her twin called in confusion from his place on the bed, having been studying something when she had entered. "What are you doing?" He asked when she locked his bedroom door.

"I..." She stammered, her throat running dry with panic invading her senses, forcing her to fidget in her spot. "I don't know what to do, I don't know what to do, I don't know what to do, "

"Hey, " Salvatore called out soothingly, enveloping her in his arms as best as he could with the cast over his right forearm. Standing a good head taller than her, she could very easily nuzzle under his chin, inhaling deeply to try and calm herself, feeling comforted to feel her brother rubbing her back.

"Tell me, what's wrong, " He led them to his bed, both of them sitting at the edge of it as she wiped at her cheeks, cleaning the tears before they could fall.

"Why did you have to become friends with a Costa? How did you become friends with a Costa?"

"I..." Her brother trailed in thought, his eyebrows creasing as he looked an awful lot like their father. "I don't know...I don't know how we came to be friends, I just knew that we were friends long before we were introduced in our official capacities as heirs to our respective Mafias, "

"Do you know he wants to marry me?"

Salvatore held his breath at her words, looking at her impassively as his hand slid away from her arm.

"What do you mean by that?" He stood from his place, walking a few paces before turning on his heel.

"He came to me last night-"

"-He spent the night in your bedroom?" Salvatore exclaimed, suddenly angry. "Where the fuck were your guards?"

"I don't know, " Serafina realized that her guards weren't at the door when Paolo entered. "I don't know where they were, but Paolo came crying to me last night and before he fell asleep he told me he'd marry me. I passed it off as one of those sleep-deprived words, but now, when he just woke up, he had said the same, and I don't know what to do about it and dad thinks I'm fucking him-"

"-Are you?"

"What? No!" She exclaimed, taken aback by the question. "I would never even think about that since he's your best friend."

Salvatore inhaled deeply before going over to the mini-fridge under his study table, pulling it open to take out a carton of apple juice, sipping the contents from the box before settling in his chair, lost in thought.

"Are you sure that Paolo plans to marry you?"

"Well, that's what he said, "

"Why do I have this feeling that he wants to marry you not for you but for your name?"

"Why do you think I'm here?"

Her brother fell silent on

ce more, rubbing his left hand over his prickly jaw since he couldn't shave, scratching at the skin.

"We're 17, he's 18, I'm pretty sure that by the time we're all in our 20's we would have long forgotten about this little crush of his, "

"I hope so, " Serafina murmured, running a hand over her arm.

"Although, Sera, how do you feel about him?" Her twin brother asked, moving his chair closer to the bed.

"Well, up until last night my feelings for him were completely platonic, but since then I don't know how to feel about it...I mean this guy-"

"-He's showing interest in you and it's new for someone to approach you in regards to that interest." Salvatore finished for her, knowing what she wanted to say. "I get it, "

"Yeah..."

"Well, just...just act like nothing is wrong and we'll deal with this later, but try not to worry mom with this since it's their anniversary."

"Oh! I forgot!" His sister hissed, slapping a hand over her forehead. "It's their anniversary."

"And you know what that means, "

"Formal dinner, "

"Yup, "

"Damn, "

Serafina got dressed in a halter top floral dress which had beautiful lilac flowers printed on the white of the fabric, her black hair tied into a fishtail braid over her shoulder with light makeup.

When he had returned to her room from Salvatore's, Paolo had no longer been there, and in relief, she had locked her door and proceeded to get ready.

Given it was her parent's wedding anniversary, they had this tradition of hosting a wonderful gathering consisting of family and friends, it often ended up with about 70 or more people, but everyone the siblings knew.

Inhaling deeply, Serafina flattened the front of her dress before making her way downstairs, a few people have already arrived, but only family at this point, like her brother Arsenio, and her uncles Vincent, Lorenzo, Marcello and Romeo with their wives and kids, her cousins Alberto and Claudia interacting with her eldest brother.

Walking towards her parents, she wished them a happy anniversary before she greeted everyone, watching how her parent's friends arrived with gifts and well wishes, congratulating them on 19 successful years of marriage.

Whenever she caught sight of Paolo, she would engage someone in a conversation and disappear from his view.

Serafina heaved a breath of relief to watch him walk out of the hall, taking the glass of juice since she was allowed to drink neither wine nor champagne that was being passed around.

"You know about the Romano's?" Her twin brother grabbed hold of her arm, standing before her in a grey button-up and black dress pants.

"The Romano's?"

"My namesake, " Salvatore hissed. "Salvatore Romano, "

"Oh! Yeah, I've heard of him, " Serafina realized whom he was talking about.

"His sons are here, "

"Sons?"

"There, " Her twin pointed towards their elder brother who was talking to a guy who looked roughly his age with dark hair and pale blue eyes, in a grey suit with a white undershirt, chatting with him over a glass of champagne. "That's Niccolo Romano, Salvatore's elder son, "

"And the second-" Her brother trailed looking around at the faces.

"-Salvatore!" Their father called out, the twins turning in the direction to see him standing with a few men, beckoning his son.

"Hold on, " He muttered before pulling away from her and going towards their father.

Serafina stood there before the window, looking out at the beautiful flower garden which was blooming with colors and fading sunlight.

"Is that scotch?" A voice asked behind her, Serafina turning in the direction to see a man standing before her in navy blue dress pants and a black button up under a waistcoat, his beautiful mist green eyes looking at her with raised eyebrows with dirty blonde hair pushed back, a face which she didn't recognize. "Is it?" He gestured to her glass.

"Uh...no, its apple juice, " She stated, watching him make a face. "Although...I know where the scotch is kept, "

"Is there beer?"

"Yeah, "

"Could I get a bottle of beer?"

"Sure, " Serafina trailed, never having met this man before but wondering what sort of man in a suit preferred beer over the sophisticated taste of champagne. "Come, "

She led him towards the kitchen, the maids looking up at the swinging of the door, but resuming their work when they noticed it be Serafina. Pulling open the fridge, she handed him a bottle of beer, as the man gave her a bedazzling smile, Serafina's cheeks flushing. She watched him look around before catching sight of the door leading out.

"This goes to the gardens?" He gestured to the door.

"Yeah, "

"Come, join me, " He cocked his head in the direction of the door before walking out, Serafina close behind.

Both of them stepped out into the setting sun as the man was about to sit down on the step, Serafina chuckling at him and pulling him up before he could sit.

"What?"

"I know this house better than you, just come and you can sit down properly."

"It's more a mansion than a house, " The man muttered behind her, taking a swig from his beer.

She led him towards the flower canopy with a white round table beneath the flowers. The man gave her an impressed look before coming to sit down at the table, Serafina sitting across from him, watching him roll back his sleeves to his elbows before taking out a packet of cigarettes from his back pocket, taking one between his lips before tossing the pack onto the table before him, lighting the end of it and exhaling into the air.

"So, who are you?" Serafina asked, resting her elbows on the table and looking at him in fascination.

"A friend of the Regnante's, " The man blew out a cloud of smoke before taking a swig from the beer.

"No, I know all the friends of the Regnante's, and I've never seen you, "

"I'll tell you who I am, if you tell me who you are, " The man negotiated, leaning forward on the table, their forearms touching.

"You first, " Serafina insisted as the man shrugged.

"Names Alessio Romano, younger son of Salvatore Romano, 23, " He introduced, Serafina's eyebrows raising at the words.

"Oh, so you're the younger one, " Serafina muttered, her blue eyes looking back at his green ones, realizing that he had flecks of brown across his iris. "Well, Alessio, I'm Serafina Regnante, twin sister to Salvatore, younger than Arsenio, the third child of Arcangelo Regnante and only daughter, and I'm 17, "

Alessio instantly choked on his beer, at the words, leaning back from her as he covered his mouth with the back of his hand.

"You're 17?" He asked in shock.

"How old did you think I was?"

"Not a minor for a start, "

"Why?" Serafina smirked. "Wanted to flirt with me?"

"Oh sweetheart, you'd know if I were flirting, " Alessio chuckled, inhaling from the cigarette. "You smoke?"

"No, "

"Want to try?"

"My father will know, "

"What? Never done anything rebellious in your life?" Alessio smirked. "So you are a princess, "

She glared at him before plucking the cigarette out from between his fingers, placing it between her lips and inhaling, before a coughing fit took over her, Alessio bursting into a fit of laughter as he took it back, Serafina unable to hold back the laugh which escaped at her own actions.

Later that night, Serafina lay in her bed and replaying her interactions with Alessio as she couldn't help the smile across her face. Looking at her phone screen where she had saved his number, giggling.

The bed shifting had her put her phone away before jumping back to see Paolo looming over her.

"We need to talk." He stated seriously.

"About?" She asked innocently, sitting up in bed

"You know about what." He growled in frustration.

"No." She shook her head. "I don't."

"We need to talk about you and that guy you were with." He gritted out and closed his eyes to calm himself.

"Oh! You mean Alessio!" Serafina realized as a smile forming across her lips. "He was really hot, wasn't he? Do you think I should give him a shot? I mean he seemed pretty decent enough and I mean he was so smooth! Swoon!"

"Serafina, " Paolo spoke warningly.

"Paolo, "

"Stop that."

"Stop what?"

"You know what I said-"

"If you're talking about the marriage thing, then I can tell you, that you said that you'd marry me when we grow up. Currently, I am 17 and you're 18. We're talking about something that will happen about 8 years later. I guess I have the right and privilege to go through a bad relation and experience life and love for myself before I get seriously involved with someone." Serafina stated firmly, looking into his dark brown eyes. "My definition of growing up is when I have lived life to the fullest, made stupid mistakes, had my first kiss, experience new things, had a horrible heartbreak that makes me feel like there is nothing worth living for, but then coming to realise that I don't need a guy to define me. I want to experiment with life, I want to do everything and only after that will I actually settle down."

"There is still so much time to that, Paolo." She told him. "I am not saying no to your proposal, I am just saying that let's see where we end up in ten years. Maybe you find someone else, someone better than me. Maybe I find someone for myself, someone different, someone who might not be you. I'm saying that you never know where you might end up in ten years."

She looked at Paolo watching her with an impassive expression, as she could physically see him take in her words and ponder them. Chuckling lightly, he leaned down until their noses were touching causing her to jump back in surprise, being taken aback by the limited space.

"There will be no one better for me than you, Regnante." He smirked before closing the distance between them, pressing his lips to hers in a firm kiss.

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