A/N: Terribly sorry for the long wait... I've actually had stuff to do! I know, she got a life?! Yes, yes I did! Anyways, the long awaited chappie! And there you have it!
"Wake up, Greggy, we're here," I said, gently rubbing his back. He had fallen asleep again on the three hour car trip. I had been anything but tired, though, as I watched the towns and farms fly by us. Everything was so beautiful. It was as if with the many years the land had endured, it had grown a sense of wisdom. The rolling hills, the sharp rocks, the timeless ocean; I loved it all.
"It's okay, I'll carry him. Why don't you let Tazio show you the way?" Vanni said gently while paying the cabbie.
"Come on, Whitney," Dean said from outside of the car. He had gotten my luggage, and was waiting on the cobblestone drive. We had to get out about a half mile from the house, because the road got too narrow for a car to make it. I stepped outside into the cool night air, and followed Dean blindly through the night. I busied myself by focusing on his posture, the way he put one foot directly in front of the other with extreme precision, how his cowlick danced in the slight breeze. I tried to engrave everything in my mind, so that I would always remember this trip. I guessed we had arrived, because Dean simply ran up to the door and went inside. I took in what I could of the dark house. The exterior was a smooth stone that had been painted a light green. The entryways were all large arches, and everything was rounded. I stood there for a moment trying to find at least one point on the house, but failed much to my disappointment. The outside itself was very wide, and looked to be about two stories.
"Aren't you coming?" Dean asked, poking his head back outside.
"Oh, yeah," I called, glancing around once more at the dark surroundings. I entered the large, rounded door, and stopped as I got inside.
"Wow," I breathed, glancing around the room. It too was rounded, and the back wall was completely made of windows. The other walls were all painted a deep blue; it almost looked black. The floor was made of a stone tile, with several matching rugs placed in ideal locations. The kitchen in front of me looked extremely modern; every appliance appeared to be made out of stainless steel, and the counter tops were black granite. There were stairs near the window wall.
"Hmm. Home sweet home," Vanni said from behind me, looking around. She clucked her tongue and went towards a (you guessed it) rounded door near the sitting room, directly to my right. The living room had a large television, a tan leather couch and love-seat set, and a full bookshelf.
"She still harbors a disappointment towards my father. She doesn't approve of the way he spends his money," Dean explained quietly, suddenly appearing at the top of the stairs. My brow furrowed.
"So, your father doesn't have financial problems?" I asked, walking slowly up to meet him.
"Oh, no. He's the CEO of a large corporation that has branches everywhere in the world. That's why money was of no objection when he bought us the plane tickets; he can't wait to meet you," he said, smiling his devilish grin. I nodded, wide eyed.
"I hope that I don't disappoint him," I said, and Dean laughed. I raised my eyebrows at him, and he stopped with an embarrassed cough.
"That's impossible. So, are you ready to see upstairs?" He asked, taking my hand in his. I wasn't given much of an option. We walked through a long hall that seemed to wrap itself around the house, and everything was just as elegant. Every so often Dean would stop to explain the doors we passed, such as the bathroom I could use and the study I should enjoy. We finally made it to the end where the hallway stopped at a little window nook.
"This'll be your room," he said softly, motioning towards the large wooden door directly to my left. "You're luggage is already in there," he said when I hesitated. I smiled, and leaned over swiftly and took his lips in mine. My arms went around his neck, and his found their way around my waist. He pushed me against the wall and we sat there for a moment, enjoying each other. His taste, his hair, his body pressed against mine... I groaned when he reluctantly pulled away.
"Thank you," I breathed, and he ran a had through his hair. He smiled as I opened my new bedroom door, and waved when I disappeared inside. I flipped on the light switch and took in my new surroundings. I'm not sure what I had been expecting; something as equally impressive, perhaps, but nothing like this. There was a huge king-sized bed with a frame that had four posts which met the ceiling. The comforter was a deep red, with little golden accents around the edge. One wall was covered with a golden tapestry; it looked Indian, and almost matched the one Vanni had in her office. The tiled floor had a cream colored rug on it, and in one corner of the large room sat a big recliner chair. There was another door, and when I poked my head inside, I found a bathroom for my personal use. It had a shower tub, and a large sink. I looked around for a bit more before my exhaustion and jet-lag caught up with me. I found my suitcase, which Dean had put carefully in the closet, and threw on some sweats before falling into the soft downy goodness of the humongous bed. I sank into the pillows, and sleep soon found me.
The next morning I woke up to sunlight streaming into my room. I got up and moved over to the tapestry, which easily slid over to the side. I realized after a moment that they were actually the curtains. I gasped as my eyes eventually got used to the light. My room was overlooking a vineyard, and the ocean was beyond that. I stared at the rolling waves; the sparkling teal waters were stuck in a never ending dance as they crashed upon the shore. I don't know how long I stood there, just looking outside. It wasn't until my face literally hit the glass that I woke up from my trance.
"Ow," I mumbled, rubbing my cheek. I shook my head as if to clear my thoughts, and then decided that I'd better get ready for the day. Tearing myself away from the window, I walked over to the closet. After rummaging around in my suitcase, I found a pair of jeans and a thin white camisole that had little flowers embroidered on the bottom. I went into the restroom, and after undressing, I stepped into the tub. I took a relatively quick shower, allowing the hot water to rinse my skin and work at the knots in my back. After shampooing and conditioning, I turned off the faucet and reached for a towel.
I got dressed and put on minimal make-up; just a tad of eyeliner and a quick brush of powder. I scrunched some mousse in my hair and spritzed some perfume on before leaving the room.
"Sure, sure. The least you could do is say hello to the poor girl. Seriously, she came all the way to Italy and is staying in your house, Nicolo. Can't you wait another ten minutes before leaving?" I heard Vanni's voice as I neared the top of the stairs. Normally she sounded calm and cool; now you could hear the frustration clearly through her words. I stopped, not wanting to intrude.
"Vanni, I've got to be going to work. You're here for a week. Of course I'd love to meet Whitney, but what can I do? Do you want me to storm into her room?" said a clear, deep voice with an accent even thicker than Vanni's. I decided that this would be an ideal time to make my appearance.
"Right behind you," Dean whispered in my ear, making me jump. He put his hands on my waist, and kissed my neck lightly. "Remember? Strength in numbers." So, as he let go, I started my descent.
"Oh, good morning," Vanni said brightly, all traces of irritation gone. I smiled and lifted my hand, but my attention was drawn to the man standing in the kitchen.
"Hello, my name is Nick. Well. You must be Whitney," he said politely, flashing me a grin. I nodded, still watching him.
"I must be," I murmured. I suppose he was handsome, with his carefully cut black hair and dark eyes. His skin was the same tanned olive tone that Dean's was, and his teeth gleamed in the fluorescent kitchen lighting. For a moment, I was reminded of a wolf.
"Tell me again the story," I begged Shane, and he sighed loudly. I knew that he didn't mind that much, though, because he loved showing off how he could read.
"Okay. Let me get the book," he said, smiling. I greedily grabbed the worn copy of 'Little Red Riding Hood' and opened it to the first page. I snuggled up in my covers, and listened as Shane read all about how she was asked to go to her grandmother's because she was ill. I loudly protested, though, when he got to the part where the wolf was speaking.
"No, brother, you're saying it wrong! He was so much more gruff. Like this!" I said, and proceeded to show him how scary the wolf should be.
"All the better to eat you with, my dear!" I growled, and Shane laughed at my valiant attempt. I pouted, crossing my arms. "Fine. You try it," I challenged. His eyes took on a wicked gleam.
"All the better to EAT YOU WITH, my DEAR!" Shane said, his stature becoming rigid. He growled ferociously, and I literally whimpered when he leaned over me. I sat there, blinking, as he watched me.
"I didn't mean to scare you," he said after a moment, and took my hand. I nodded.
"I know. I just didn't know you could sound so good at being mean," I explained, and Shane laughed.
"So, I suppose I'll have to get to know you at dinner tonight. I'm terribly sorry to have to run out on you like this, but I trust that Dean will show you a good time. Enjoy anything you want," he said, taking a coffee mug and slipping past me. I focused my eyes back on him, and shuddered by how much he reminded me of the bad guy. I nodded vaguely, and my eyes flickered towards Vanni's. Her face was pinched and upset; again, a first for me to witness.
"Bye, papa," Dean said, shaking his dad's hand. We all watched as he left the house.
"So, what can I interest you for breakfast?" Vanni asked, putting on another bright smile. I raised my eyebrows towards Dean.
"They bring the worst out in each other," he muttered quietly as his mother busied herself by searching the cupboards. I nodded.
"I'm fine, thanks," I said, and Vanni's brow furrowed.
"Ma, don't worry about it. I was planning on taking Whitney out for the day, and we'll stop somewhere nice to have brunch. Is that alright?" he asked quickly, smiling his devilish grin at Vanni. She smiled back, and apparently his grin had the same effect on her as it did on me. She nodded.
"That sounds perfect. I'm sure you two will have an amazing time. I'll take care of Greggy. Just be back for supper," she said, and came over towards us. She grabbed me, holding me at arms length, and finally pulled me into a warm embrace.
"I'm so glad you could join us," she said, and I knew instantly that she meant it. Sincerity like she had was hard to find.
"I'm so glad that you wanted me too," I replied, and she laughed. I loved listening to her laugh; as I believe I've mentioned before, it sounded musical.
"Always. Now, you better run along before it gets too horribly hot," she said, and Dean grabbed my hand. The house was even more elegant looking by day; it looked almost of a Spanish design, rather than the older Italian style apartments I had seen. I allowed Dean to pull me out of the driveway. As we got along the main cobblestone road, Dean relaxed his pace and walked side by side with me. I had no idea where we were going, but there was only one way to go in the direction Dean had started us on, so we kept walking in a pleasurable silence. After we had climbed a hill, we stopped at the top of the trail and looked over the busy little town before us.
"It's so cute," I said, causing Dean to chuckle.
"Interesting choice of words," he explained when I looked at him questioningly. I just clucked my tongue. The city was quaint, with people walking here and there quickly. There were several large buildings and many smaller ones that filled the intricate looking alleyways. Dean pushed me gently.
"Come on, don't you ever want to eat?" I glared at him, but he shrugged it off as we started towards the shops.
"Gradite comprare I miei pesci?" A large, round man said to us, holding out a large fish. Dean shook his head, but the vendor was persistent.
"Nessun grazie," Dean said fluently, and the vendor shrugged his shoulders and went to another person walking behind us.
"What did he want?" I asked. Dean smiled.
"He wanted us to buy his fish," he explained, "and I told him no thank you."
"I had no idea that you knew Italian."
"It's very rough, but I know enough to get by," he said modestly. I remembered the way everything had rolled off of his tongue, smooth as silk, and knew that he had to be lying. But whatever.
"Here we are. I loved eating here as a child," Dean said as we came up to a small building made completely out of brick. We went into the warm room, and I took a deep breath as the amazing aromas teased my nose. I sighed, and Dean winked suggestively at me.
"Wait until you actually taste the food. If you thought you loved Italian in America, you'll be in heaven," he said, waving at the woman behind the counter.
"Ciao," she said pleasantly, and motioned for us to follow her. We were led towards a small booth in the back where she handed us the menus. After smiling, she left.
"You order for me. I take it you know what's best," I said, and I reached over the table to brush some of his hair out of his eyes. He raised an eyebrow, but didn't say anything. That stupid cowlick...
"Okay," he said slowly, drawing out the word. His gaze flickered across the menu, and I could tell that he had decided when he gave a short nod.
"Cameriera di bar?" he called out, and the waitress quickly walked over. "Gradiremmo il parmigiano della melanzana," he said, and I watched him curiously. She nodded, and walked away.
"What did you order?" I asked.
"The eggplant Parmesan. It's the best thing in the world," he said, grinning. I nodded. After our food had arrived, I had to agree. Apart from being the best thing I'd ever had in Italian, it was pretty darn near the best thing I'd ever eaten. I sat there, fuller than I think I had ever been, and glared as Dean just laughed at me.
"Lets go work off lunch, hmm? How would you like to see the beach by the house?" Dean asked after a moment. I sat up quickly at the mention of the ocean.
"I'd love nothing more," I said, and he nodded. After paying, we went back out onto the even busier streets. I watched little motor scooters skillfully weave in and out of the people bustling about, and the shoppers bargain until they got their money's worth on the fresh produce they were buying.
"Coming?" Dean asked from where he had stopped, several paces ahead of me. I nodded, and ran to catch up. It certainly was a ways to walk to the beach, but as soon as the ocean came into view, I couldn't care less about how long it would take me to get there with the promise that I would. The second that my sandaled toes touched the sand, I took off my shoes and ran towards the sparkling water. I noticed that we were the only one's there; it must've been a private strip. I dipped my toe in curiously, and sat down right where I was with my feet in. I watched the tide come in, never ending, and I couldn't have imagined the power and mystery the ocean held from just looking at it from afar.
"Beautiful, isn't it?" Dean said from beside me. I hadn't noticed when he'd sat down, but I leaned my head against his shoulder as he quietly hummed a song. It was beautiful, intoxicating, weaving in and out of my mind just as the water kept rhythm. After a while, he tilted my chin towards him, and took my lips in his. I was once again wrapped up in him; the way his body felt pressed against mine, the electricity that seemed to flow through us. I sat there, and for the first time in my life, wondered why I deserved everything I had. All good things had to come to an end, right?
A/N: Many, many thanks to everyone who's reading and reviewing! You guys are amazing. And, several people have brought it to my attention that I often confuse Shane and Dean's names—yes, I do, so please bear with me! If you catch something, please let me know! Thanks! :D:D:D:D