Another week passed and Isabella spent as much time with Luca and Dante as she could. She didn't feel any awkwardness between her and Luca which she was grateful but she did sense a certain electric tension between them whenever they were around each other; it always heightened when they locked eyes and her cheeks always burned with a rosy warmth-and she could never hold back that small, shy smile that he always returned with one of his brilliant ones.
One Saturday evening, Isabella wanted them to experience more of her culture so she invited Luca, Dante and a few of their friends to a Quinceanera of one of her friend's sisters. She was so excited for that night, she could hardly contain herself. It started at 9PM and around seven, she decided to get ready. Luca and Dante were spending some time with a few friends so they would be by later as the group had decided to carpool. After showering she chose a backless, halter top, knee length black dress that hugged her curves just perfectly. Drying her hair, she decided to leave it down and tame her natural curls with a curling iron to soften the look. She deliberated over her makeup for awhile, as she wanted to look natural and not fake. After awhile, she picked the softest lavender eye shadow with a hew of soft peach to it. She blended the color so it brought out her eyes and then completed the look with a bold smooth line of liquid eyeliner. Then she added a light shade of rosy pink to her cheeks and then completed it with a bold salsa red lipstick. She then chose a pair of strappy brown, grey and black animal printed stilettos to complete the ensemble. She checked the full-length mirror in her hotel room and was thoroughly satisfied. Grabbing up her clutch and leather jacket she headed out and down to the hotel lobby. She checked her watch and it read eight twenty. They should be hear any moment so she moved to stand by the door and wait.
A few moments later, a sleek silver car pulled up and she spotted Dante and Luca in the front seat. They pulled up to the door and taking a deep breath, she walked out into the warm night. The back door opened and Diego, his brother and Brice filed out. Presently, Luca climbed out of the passenger side and when he saw Isabella, all the wind left his lungs and he was left gasping and speechless.
"-Bell-" He breathed as she walked up to them, ducking her head as she smiled shyly.
"Bella! You look incredible but we gotta go, Mates! We don't wanna be late."
"Here…Uh, Brice, hop in the front seat with Dante will you?"
Brice's face fell slightly but she said nothing as she climbed in the front seat.
Holding the door open for her, Luca allowed Isabella to climb in first then he climbed in after her as Diego and his brother took the seats after him.
"Alright! Everybody in? Alright let's head out then!" And they pulled out onto the main busy street.
The city of Buenos Aires was alive with excitement, glittering street lights and music blared from every street and there were scattered groups of natives dancing on the sidewalks, in the squares and even on street corners. Bell watched the bright smiles of intrigue on her companions faces and she felt warm and proud that she could show them the beauty of her heritage-for Isabella was half Argentinean as well as Dominican and she felt a special closeness to this country. They came to a busy intersection and at the first chance he got, Dante gunned the car around the corner. They were jostled about as Dante called a hasty "sorry guys!" over his shoulder and the side of Luca's body collided with hers. He looked at her, smiling apologetically as he gently pressed against her shoulder with the palm of his hand. He readjusted himself and put his free arm around her shoulders in an attempt to make more room for her. She smiled gratefully as she turned slightly into the crook of his arm. Dante glanced at them in the mirror and smiled; he loved how happy his brother was with Bell and it was evident she adored him just as much.
After about a half-hour drive through the crowded city, they came to the outskirts to a smaller region called Zona Portuaria that right on the banks of Rio de la Plata. "This is it." Bell pointed to a relatively large Spanish home that was nearly right on the beach. There were cars that lined both sides of the driveway and even littered the front yard and once they found a relatively open spot, they parked. The stars were out and Isabella breathed in the fresh ocean air as the rest piled out of the car. Luca and Dante stretched their longs arms and she snorted lightly when she heard both their stomachs growl almost simultaneously. "Don't worry, there's food inside, boys." She shook her head, laughing as the group headed towards the wide veranda. A well-dressed older woman met them and Isabella instantly greeted her with a kiss on the cheek as she introduced her friends. The woman smiled and nodded and ushered the guests into the main hall. The large room had been cleared out for the celebration and the high vaulted ceilings added an element of spacious elegance to the room. There were candles lit all around the room and festively colored lanterns strung high up from one wall across to the other. Just then, a young woman with waist-length dark hair moved towards them and when she saw Isabella, they both squealed and embraced each other. "Isa, I'm so glad you could come! Oh it will mean so much to Olivia that you're here! Oh, and who are your friends?"
"Martina, this is Luca Ferrari, his younger brother Dante and their friends Diego, his brother Felipe and Brice."
"Welcome! Please make yourselves at home and enjoy the evening-refreshments are in the adjoining room-excuse me I have to see to my daughter and the other guests."
"Wow…Bella you guys really know how to throw a party don't you."
She smiled at Dante and nodded. "Yes…few cultures no how to celebrate like we do."
Just then, the room came to life with blaring music and all eyes turned to the live band at the head of the room. A young Hispanic musician was singing and the beat steadily picked up to its climax in the chorus. "What song is this?" Luca asked.
"Its called Tus Ojos no Me Ven. It's one of my favorites." Isabella smiled at the music as it transitioned into the second verse and then the chorus again. Presently, a young Hispanic man approached her. She apparently knew him and greeted him with a bright smile. He asked her to dance and she nodded as he led her out to the dance floor where most of the guests were already dancing. Luca watched her as she twisted and twirled to the fast beat; he was amazed at how fast her feet moved and yet how she still kept in time with the music, making it look effortless-he could've watched her all night-she was so beautiful.
# # # #
Isabella danced with Dante, Diego and even once with Felipe who was painfully shy and watched his feet most of the time during the dance. After a half hour break for the band, they came back and the beat to the next song drifted out slowly. Isabella stood at one side of the room, talking with some of the girls when her eyes caught sight of Luca watching her from the other side. They smiled as he walked up to her and bending his head down he whispered in her ear. "Dance with me, Bell."
She nodded as he led her out on the dance, spinning her around then pulling her to him as they began to slow-dance.
"Are you enjoying yourself?" she asked momentarily.
He smiled as he could feel her smiling against his cheek. "Yes I am-and you?"
"I always do."
"So, what song is this?"
"It's called Corazon Frio." she smiled softly as a soft humming came from him.
They continued moving slowly around the floor. "I'll be honest, I'm not so sure if I'll be able to keep up with you." he laughed.
She pulled back and looked up into his eyes. "It's easy, Luca-Do you trust me?"
He could sense a hidden meaning behind her words. "Completely."
She smiled then as she took his hands, standing at arms length and started to move with the fast beat of the chorus. He followed her movements and though he slipped up a few times, he caught on relatively fast and she beamed at him. The song soon transitioned into a softer slower beat as she hugged Luca, exclaiming "You did it!"
He flashed her his brilliant smile as he stood back and she danced solo. Her smile was bright as she twirled and moved her hips to the music, moving closer to him. He couldn't stop smiling as she moved around him in a tight circle, purposely brushing against him a few times with a devilish sparkle in her eyes. For a split second, he thought of Jordan. She had been so sweet and innocent-and her innocence had often times kept her from getting too close to him; he'd attributed it to her shyness and her English upbringing but at times, it had been somewhat frustrating when he just wanted to be close to her. With Bell, it was completely different; she wasn't at all afraid of him-she didn't hide away her boldness and passion at even now, she was putting herself closer to him than she ever had before and she didn't seem nervous or afraid-she was natural with him and he loved that. Just then, he broke out of his thoughts in time to see her twirl over and over again all the way to the other side of the room. She stopped only to flash him a smile as she disappeared out into the darkened hallway.
He didn't hesitate as he followed her. The hallway was dark and for a few moments he couldn't see a foot in front of him as his eyes had not adjusted from the previous brightness. Just then, he felt a soft rush of air behind him as Isabella stood behind and whispered close to his ear.
He smiled as he turned and caught her hand in his, smiling into the dark. She pulled him towards her as her back pressed against the hallway wall near a large window. The moonlight shown through and cast a light across the upper half of her face and finally he could see her. She was smiling like an adventurous little girl, intent on some sort of risky excitement and he grinned back.
"You wanna come with me?" She asked in a breathless whisper.
He suddenly felt the anxious heat rising inside him and he instantly felt the insane need to be close to her. He pressed his forehead to hers, reaching his hand to the wall next to her head, steadying himself. "Where?" His warm breath ghosted across her face and she breathed in his spicy warm scent.
"Just come with me…this way." she tugged on his hand and soon, they were outside, half-walking half-running on the cool sand down to the beach. The waves crashed on the shore as the two laughed breathlessly once they'd reached the water. The water crashed over their feet and around their ankles, and even splashed up to just below their knees.
"Bell, what are we doing?" Luca laughed softly as he looked at her bright eyes and smile.
"Being reckless and carefree…what else?"
"I'm reckless and carefree-always!" He smiled, teasing her.
"I know-I've heard as much."
"Talking to my brother again?"
"Maybe a little." she winked at him as she walked a little farther out into the water; Luca inhaled sharply as she lifted her dress high, exposing her thighs.
"Bell…" his breath was growing ragged as she turned back to look at him, the ocean spray crashing against her as it sprayed up around her.
"Com'on…come out here with me." She begged, holding out her hand towards him.
"My clothes, Bell; my vintage Italian suit pants are gonna get all wet out there."
"That's why they invented the drycleaners…Com'on please?"
"Why?" he shook his head, smiling imploringly at her.
"Because…there's only two weeks left and it's a beautiful night…is it wrong that I want to spend it with you?"
He stared at her for long moments as the current and waves surged around them. Her dark eyes were soft and sad-like they were pleading. Her soft caramel skin glistened in the moonlight, especially where the ocean water dripped off of her. Her hair was a mass of soft curl that blew in the wind, some strands falling across her face. She was too beautiful to look away from and in an instant he thought to himself-If I don't stay with her now; if I don't take this moment to really be with her, then I'm a complete fool! With that, He moved out in the water towards her. The waves crashed higher and higher against his legs but he didn't care; it could drown him for all he cared because all that mattered was this moment-with Bell. He reached her now and as they stood in the surging ocean with the stars and moon shimmering over head, he reached out and took her hand in his.
She flinched at his touch but only from anticipation of being close to him. He moved closer till they stood just inches from each other and his hand reached up, caressing her cheek. Her eyes closed as she leaned into his touch, her lower lip quivering slightly-she felt she'd been waiting for this moment all of her life.
"Bell…" He breathed her name out as he kissed her forehead and then her nose.
He looked in her eyes. "You're…so…beautiful."
"God, Luca don't make me stand here just inches from you, and make me wait, please." she pulled his face down to hers and kissed him deeply.
His arms wound around her waist as he lifted her up slightly out of the water, and pulled her flush against him. Her now ocean-drenched body clung to his and soon, his white dress shirt was soaked through and he could feel the warmth of her skin on his. The moonlight shown down on the impassioned pair as they desperately clung to each other.
"Bell…I don't want to leave you."
She took a breath to look at him as he gently lowered her back into the water but still held her close. "What do you mean?"
"To Italy-I don't want to go back home-without you."
# # # #
Luca's eyes fluttered wide open-He'd been dreaming and he sat up in bed, rubbing his eyes. He glanced out the window; it was storming and when he looked at the clock, it read 3AM. He leaned heavily forward, his elbows on his knees as he tried to think. He knew the party itself hadn't been a dream but the part where he'd escaped with Bell to the beach-that part had definitely been a dream. His heart was racing and he had to take several deep breaths before he stood from bed. Glancing around the room, he suddenly felt very alone and empty-the thought of leaving for Italy in two weeks, brought a stab of pain to his chest; he grimaced, rubbing it momentarily as his eyes drifted to the door. He wanted to see her. Badly. So throwing his white dress shirt over his shoulders, he hurried to the door and walked out into the dimly lit hallway. He walked five doors down and then crossed the hall to her room. He hesitated for a moment-what's she gonna think of me banging on her door at 3AM only half-way dressed? But before he could answer his own question, his hand was knocking urgently but semi-softly on her door. A few moments later, he heard movement inside and then muffled shuffling footsteps neared the door-then the turning of the lock and finally-the door swung open slowly.
"Luca?" Isabella breathed sleepily as she spotted Luca's tall slender form, clad in nothing but dark sleeping pants and an unbuttoned white dress shirt. "What is it?"
Her forehead wrinkled with worry lines as her eyes mirrored the same. "Bell…" What could he say.
"Luca-what's wrong? You're worrying me I can tell something's happened."
"Nothing happened just-I had a dream and-I had to see you."
She blinked a few times, staring quizzically at him. Just then, she noticed a shimmer against his exposed skin on his chest. She reached her hand out and brushed the tips of her fingers over it-it was a scar. "What happened?" She whispered.
Luca glanced down to the place where she touched him and raised his hand to stroke her fingers. "I was um…in a car accident when I was twenty-when I crashed, the windshield shattered and a good piece of it lodged into my chest there-it was pretty exciting actually." He laughed a little then as her thumb brushed over the narrow scar.
"It's so narrow-I never noticed it before." Just then, she felt his hand slipping up her arm to her shouler-she closed her eyes and a smile began to spread on her lips as his hand came up to her neck and then her cheek. She leaned into the palm of his hand, her eyes opening only to be met by his intense golden brown ones.
Luca's other hand came up, cupping her other cheek as he leaned forward and ever so lightly, pressed his lips to hers.
She stood frozen in the moment as she felt every movement of his lips against hers-she could hardly breathe and she held her breath, afraid any movement would only shatter this beautiful moment. Just then, she felt his teeth gently nibble at her lower lip and a slight moan escaped her as she suddenly molded her body to his. Her hands pressed firmly against his muscled chest and she could feel his heart rate speed up as her lips responded to his.
Slowly, Luca pushed her back into the room and reaching back with his hand, closed the door behind them. He felt her pull back for a moment but he hastily pressed his lips to hers again, not wanting her to have anytime to second-guess or contemplate this moment.
She fisted the collar of his shirt and pulled her with him as they neared the bedroom. Once there, she pulled him down onto the bed with her and wrapped her arms around his neck.
Luca's hand brushed against her bare leg as they came down on the bed-she'd only been wearing a mid-thigh length night shirt that hung off her shoulders because of how loose it was-but to Luca, it was the most beautiful way he'd seen her look ever.
Just then, Bella pushed up to her knees, her hands cradling his face as she continued to kiss him and she leaned forward until she felt him settle to a seated position. She settled in his lap, straddling him and she loved the feel of his arms winding tightly around her and his hands caressing up and down her back. Just then, his fingers slipped beneath the folds of her shirt and crept tantalizingly up her bare back, causing her to inhale sharply.
"Will you stay-please stay here tonight with me?"
He pulled back and looked up into her eyes. "I'll stay-If I can hold you and kiss you goodnight."
She nodded as they pulled back from each other and settled into the folds of the covers with Him half-way on top of her, brushing the hair out of her eyes as he kissed her face all over. She pushed back the folds of his shirt, exposing his perfectly smooth and sculpted body and she snuggled in as close to him as she could, with her face buried into his chest.
As they drifted to sleep, Bell waited until his steady breathing told her he was asleep and then she whispered softly as a tear escaped from beneath her eyelashes, "Te Amo."
Luca's eyes drifted open at the sound of her voice as she uttered those three beautiful words.