tagInterracial LoveLa Vita Dolce Ch. 17

La Vita Dolce Ch. 17

bytheDuskyGirl©

Natasha eyed herself speculatively in the full length mirror and smoothed her hands over her hips. The Versace gowns were tucked away in her closet intermingled with the gowns she had acquired over the past three years. She couldn't wear a gown that wouldn't show up on Luca's credit card statement. Instead she called in a last minute favor and managed to have a YSL couture gown tailored and sent over the day before the party.

The gown was dark red silk cut on the bias to sensually slide over her curves down to her ankles with a slit revealing a glimpse of thigh. The neckline was low cut, revealing a good deal of the golden brown flesh down past her breasts.

Her dark hair was pulled back in a simple knot. Long feathery side swept bangs framed her face. Her makeup was simple yet sultry; bronzer on her cheeks, pink lips, kohl rimmed eyes. Gold chandelier earrings hung from her ears and complemented the gold and garnet cuff around her wrist.

She looked herself over one last time before leaving her bedroom. Guests had begun arriving more than half an hour ago, but she had not been present to great them. Luca preferred that she make an entrance.

She hated it. It was just another way that Luca liked to show off his possessions. She was no different than a car in his garage or a new racehorse in his stables.

She made her way to the landing at the top of the staircase and carefully stayed out of sight as she peered down at the people milling about below. Everyone was extravagantly attired, the men in black tie, the women in couture. Black clad serving staff threaded through the crowd with trays of champagne flutes and hors d'oeuvres. A string quartet played in the corner. She dreaded that moment when she stepped into sight and eyes would slowly turn speculatively to her, hated the way the men's eyes would rove salaciously over her and the women would mentally guess which designer she was wearing and speculate whether Luca had given one of his mistresses the same pair of earrings.

She ran a slightly trembling hand over her hair, making sure that no hair was out of place. She drew herself upward squaring her shoulders and lifted her chin. She stepped forward to the railing and paused allowing her gaze to sweep over the scene below before lifting her gown slightly and descending the stairs. She could feel many eyes on her though she kept her gaze on the tips of her Louboutin clad toes and allowed her fingertips to trail along the ornately carved banister.

Luca was there to meet her at the bottom of the stairs a small smile of approval playing on the corners of his lips as he watched her approach. His molten silver gaze roved appreciatively over her body and he extended his hand to her as she drew near. She would have to be blind and dumb not to recognize that her husband was a handsome man. He had forgone the tie and wore a finely tailored black Armani suit and crisp black button down, the top two buttons undone. He was clean shaven, his dark onyx hair coaxed back from his face. He was wonderful to look at, she was loath to admit. It was a pity he was such a bastard.

Natasha slipped her hand into his palm allowed him to pull her against him as she reached the bottom of the stairs. He held her firmly against him with one arm while he gently took her chin between his thumb and forefinger and lifted her face to his. His voice was husky when he spoke. "You look remarkable, little one." And he pressed a kiss to her temple.

Natasha smiled faintly at him, ever aware of the tableaux she was to create: the devoted and loving wife. She was to appear beautiful and sensuous. Men were supposed to desire her but she had eyes only for her husband. It was as if he were the only beautiful man in the room.

Natasha plucked a champagne flute from the tray of a waiter passing by and allowed him to lead her towards a group of prominent business men and their wives. Natasha smiled charmingly, slipping her hand into the crook of Luca's arm.

Natasha was on her second glass of champagne when she spotted her uncle across the room similarly holding court and in the company of a shockingly beautiful raven haired woman. Catching her eye, he raised his own glass and winked at her.

"Pardon me," she murmured to Luca and nodded to Renoldo Pezzini. Following her gaze, Luca nodded, dismissing her. She smiled apologetically at her guests and made her way over to her uncle.

Natasha watched Renoldo disentangled himself from the beautiful woman on his arm as he noticed her approaching.

"Ah bambina!" Renoldo grinned and swept her up into a hug before stepping back from her and holding her hands in his he looked her over before pressing a kiss to each of her cheeks . "Darling, you look incredible."

Natasha smiled and returned the compliment. Renoldo was dashing as always in a superbly cut tux, however, the superbly beautiful woman on his arm who looked a bit more than piqued at the moment and irritated by Renoldo's attention to the young woman.

"Zio, your date...." Natasha murmured glancing over his shoulder at the woman whose temper was obviously rising.

Renoldo pulled her close, "Just a moment bambina. She's much more ferocious in bed when she's jealous."

Shaking her head, Natasha stepped around her uncle. A brilliant smile lit her face as she extended her hand towards the woman who looked as though she wanted to spit. "Bonjorno, I'm Natasha Angiolini."

The woman stared at her a moment. Natasha could practically see the wheels turning in her pretty head when her red painted mouth formed an 'O'. She flushed and took Natasha's hand.

"Amanda Stewart," she introduced herself.

Natasha cocked her head thoughtfully, a wide smile spreading across her face. "Ah, I saw your Italian Vogue cover recently. It was stunning."

The tall raven haired beauty looked abashed and murmured her quiet thanks as she slipped her hand into the crook of Renoldo's arm.

At that same moment Natasha felt a light touch on her arm and turned to see Marcella standing anxiously at her side. A frown of concern wrinkled Natasha's smooth brow. "Marci, what is it? Is Gabriel alright?"

Marcella was wringing her hands nervously as she glanced from Natasha to Renoldo and then back to Natasha. "I'm sorry to intrude, Signora, but Gabriel has a bit of a fever and is fretting. I can't get him to bed."

Natasha's gaze narrowed in concern and she reassuringly touched Marcella's shoulder. "I'll be there in a moment."

Marcella nodded silently and retreated. She gave Renoldo an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry, Gabe isn't feeling too hot. I'm going to go check on him."

"Ah," Renoldo grinned. "I'll go with you. It's been too long since I've gotten to see my nephew."

Natasha breath caught but she smiled. "Let me see how he's doing first?"

"Of course." Renoldo returned the smile as his niece turned and made her way back to her husband's side.

"Luca," Natasha brushed her lips against his husband's ear drawing his look. "Gabriel has a touch of the fever. I'm going to check on him."

A thin line appeared between his dark brows and she watched his gaze flit to Marcella standing awkwardly at the bottom of the stairs. His silver gaze once again settled on her face and he nodded, adding in a low voice, "Don't be too long."

Natasha nodded and smiled a captivating smile at their guests before slipping from Luca's side and moving carefully through the guests nodding her acknowledgements before she was finally at the nursery door beside. Marcella.

Natasha pushed the door open a crack and peered at her son's sleeping form tucked away safe in his little bed. "Is he alright?" she murmured.

Marcella nodded vigorously, her eyes wide as Natasha took her hands in her own. "Don't worry," she soothed. "I just needed a few moments away from Luca. But I need to ask you something more serious. Come with me?"

Natasha darted into her bedroom and disappeared into her closet before reemerging with a thick manila envelope. Natasha held the envelope close to her chest looking as though she might weep. Her lips trembled and she looked uncertain before she thrust the envelope into Marcella's hands although she didn't fully let go. "You love my son don't you?"

Marcella studied Signora Angiolini carefully before she answered. "I love him as if he were my own child."

"Truly?" Natasha questioned, her gaze fervent.

"Of course, Signora." Marcella breathed. Natasha hesitated but she seemed to satisfy her and she let go of the envelope taking a small step backwards.

"What is this?" Marcella questioned, turning the envelope and feeling its weight in her hands.

Natasha drew in a deep breath. "Two passports, one for you and one for Gabriel with aliases and ten thousand Euro notes and ten US dollars. I wish it could be more but it was all I could get without Luca noticing.

Marcella paled and clutched the envelope in her hands. "I don't understand."

Natasha shook her head. "There's not time enough to explain everything right now. But if anything ever happens to me—even if I'm simply not around for a few days I want you to take the passports and the money and go to America. The address for a Mr. Colin Grey is in there, you can trust him with anything. Don't hesitate, just go. Do you understand?"

Marcella nodded mutely, her dark eyes wide.

Natasha's lips thinned her gaze intent on Marcella's face. "I know you love Gabriel. Can I trust you?"

On impulse, Marcella reached out and grasped Natasha's hand in her own, giving it a light squeeze. "You can trust me with anything Signora. I swear it."

Natasha felt relief flooding over her. If Gabriel was safe then she could do what needed to be done and she need not worry about the consequences to her son. "Thank you," she breathed. "You have no idea how much this means to me." She smiled a tight smile. "If you would stay with Gabriel tonight that would be wonderful. I'll head back down to the party in a little bit. I just want to..."she smiled tightly. "Settle a few things."

"Of course, Signora," Marcella nodded. "I'll keep with Gabriel."

"Grazie," Natasha smiled as the other woman left the room. Knowing she didn't have much time, she darted back into her closet, and dug into the pocket of a long black Marc Jacobs coat to pull the disposable cell phone from the pocket.

Slipping back into the hall, her gaze darted in both directions before she bent and slipped off her heels and padding down the hall, the Louboutins dangling from her fingertips She crept down the darkened hallways towards Luca's office. He never bothered to lock his office. He was so sure of his absolute authority and his capacity to make those around him fear him, there was no need to bother with things like locking doors.

Taking a deep calming breath, Natasha slipped into Luca's office, pushing down the sense of dread and that little voice telling her that this was an incredibly dumb idea. She didn't dare switch on the light. Instead, she clicked on her penlight and cast the small round circle of light over the room.

She checked behind the paintings hanging on the wall. But unlike the movies, there was no safe to be found behind the likely pilfered Picasso. Nothing. Pursing her lips, she slid behind into the large leather armchair behind Luca's heavy mahogany desk and slid open the first drawer of file folders. She thumbed deftly through the files, withdrawing bank statements and scanning them, only to determine that there wasn't much out of the ordinary.

Frowning, Natasha closed the drawer and was surprised by the definitive thunk that came from the bottom of the drawer. She pulled open the drawer. There it was again; the sound of something sliding along the bottom of the drawer.

Nonplussed, Natasha pushed the hanging files to the back of the drawer and shone the penlight on the bottom of the drawer. There was nothing. Odd. She ran her fingertips around the edge of the drawer's base and tilted her head to survey the depth. No false bottom there. She sighed.

Natasha pulled the handing files to the front of the drawer and shone the light at the back of the drawer. Grabbing the letter opener from the desktop she worked the tip into the thin fissure between the false drawer back and the top. She pried at the fissure but nothing budged.

With a sigh, she set down the letter opener and pushed at the panel. The panel clicked and fell open. Gaping, Natasha shone the light over the stacks of bills within, the scattering of USB storage devices, the file folders within, and a small gold plated Walther PPK.

Without a second thought, Natasha snatched up the files and immediately crossed the room to the fax machine. She punched in Gianni's fax number and fed the documents through before carefully placing them back into their respective file folders. Darting back to the desk she replaced the files. Without thinking she snatched up two of the USB drives and closed the hidden compartment with a soft snap and closed the drawer. Slipping out of Luca's chair, she surveyed the desk, fairly certain that all was in its proper place before pushing in his chair.

USBs and cell phone clutched in one hand, penlight in the other as she slipped her feet back into her heels and slipped out of Luca's office and closed the door as quietly as possible behind her.

She turned and let out a low cry as Alejandro Morelli's large hand closed around her throat and slammed her back against the door. He leaned close and leered at her. "Oh, I've been waiting for this, bitch," he snarled.

Wincing, Natasha clawed at his grasp and struggled to wriggle free but he was having none of it. He pressed his forearm against her neck, affectively pinning her in place.

"I've been waiting for you to fuck up," he growled. "WHAT DID YOU TAKE?!" he demanded, easing up a bit only to slam her back against the door.

"Nothing!" she gasped, hating the way terror tinged her voice.

"Liar," he seethed. "I told Luca he could never trust you, but he thought he'd won your loyalty, your love and devotion." Releasing her throat, Alejandro gripped her jaw painfully in his hand. "And I can't wait to disabuse him of that thinking."

Natasha suddenly began to struggle violently. Alejandro pressed his body against her to still her movements. Using his closeness, Natasha thrust her knee upward between his legs. She watched him choke and fall away from her as the blow connected.

She sidestepped him and bolted only to have his hand close around her ankle. She fell hard, her palms stinging with the force of the impact but she rolled and kicked her stilettos at him causing him to release his hold on her.

She scrambled to her feet and raced down the hall, darting into her bedroom. She whirled to slam the door shut but Alejandro was there.

She pushed all her weight against the door but Alejandro shoved at against it so hard that she was sent stumbling backwards. The heel of her stiletto caught the hem of her gown. There was a tearing sound and she went down, sprawling on her back.

Alejandro was on her instantly, his hands wrapping around her throat. He squeezed, fury contorting his features as he cut off her airway.

Natasha writhed beneath him, tears streaming down her face as her vision grew black around the edges and her strength began to fail her.

She didn't want to die like this. Not when she was so close to freeing Gabriel and herself. Oh, God, Gabriel. What was going to happen to him?

Just before she slipped from consciousness, Alejandro was snatched off her.

Letting out a low cry, she gasped for air in deep painful breaths as her fluttering hands moved to her throat. She gazed up to see Luca pinning Alejandro against the wall, his fist slamming into Alejandro's battered face. Two of Luca's me, Araldo and Matteo, entered the room and rushed to her, lifting her up from the floor.

The young man, Matteo, looked into her face. "Are you alright, Signora?"

Natasha nodded, swallowing painfully, and fixed her eyes on her husband who had stepped away from Alejandro. The man fell forward onto his hands and knees.

"Get up," Luca spat at him. She had never heard him use that tone before. His voice was low, flat and emotionless. It sent a shudder coursing down her spine.

Luca aimed a kick that caught Alejandro full in the ribs.

Natasha clapped a hand over her mouth the muffle her scream at the audible sound of crunching bones.

Luca glanced at Araldo, his personal bodyguard and jerked his head toward Alejandro. Araldo moved quickly and grabbed Alejandro by the collar, hauling him to his feet and slamming him back against the wall.

Luca was silently wiping the blood from his knuckles with a silk kerchief. Natasha could see the muscles in his jaw working furiously. His slate grey gaze narrowed. "Tell me, Alejandro, what makes you think you can put your hands on my wife?"

Alejandro struggled to lift his head and peered at his employer through his one unswollen eye. He swallowed hard. "I caught her sneaking around in your office. She took something probably."

Luca turned to his wife, thinly veiled rage beneath the coolness of his gaze.

Natasha's lips twisted sardonically. "Really Morelli?" She sneered at the bleeding man. She switched her gaze to Luca. "I came up here to check on our son. When I came out I heard the door to your study closing. I saw light coming from under the door and I thought it might be you. But I saw him coming out of your office." She gritted her teeth. "That's when he attacked me. He threatened to kill me if I told you what I saw."

Frowning, Luca surveyed his wife, taking in the torn gown that left little to the imagination in the first place and the bruises beginning to darken the lovely column of her throat. He looked to Morelli who was barely hanging on to consciousness.

He nodded to Araldo who began patting Alejandro down. Araldo set aside the gun that had been in Alejandro's shoulder holster and continued his search. From Alejandro's pocket he withdrew a penlight, a USB storage device and a burner phone. He handed the phone to Luca..

Scowling, Luca flipped open the phone, dialed the only number entered and put the phone to his ear.

Natasha's heart stuttered in her chest. 'Please, please, please,' she prayed silently.

She watched fury and heat suffuse Luca's face. With a roar he hurled the phone at the wall to shatter into broken plastic bits. "Get him out of here!" Luca shouted and Matteo and Araldo were instantly dragging Luca from the room.

Natasha wanted desperately to run but she knew it was fruitless. She stood rooted to the spot. Luca was before her suddenly, gripping her shoulders in his hands. "Did you know Alejandro was in contact with my brother?"

The look of shock on her face was genuine. "What?! No!" she blurted. Thank God.

Luca was staring at her intently.

"But it seems to make a little bit of sense," she ventured.

Luca frowned.

"How else did Gianni know how to find me that day in the park? Alejandro betrayed my uncle too once. He does not have a reputation that inspires confidence."

Luca seemed to consider this. His silver gaze searched her face. "You knew each other before he worked for me." It wasn't a question.

Natasha sighed and nodded, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. "Yeah, we knew each other when we were children. When I came back to Italy after my dad died he was..." Natasha paused, choosing her words carefully. "Different," she finished. "He was supposed to look after me, but he made advances and I rejected him."

Luca drew a steadying breath, obviously struggling to reign in his rage. "How far did these advances progress?"

Natasha worried her bottom lip between her teeth. "Luca—"

"HOW FAR?!" he shouted, his grip on her growing painful.

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bytheDuskyGirl© 30 comments/ 22364 views/ 33 favorites

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