Hold You Against Me(9)

By: Skye Warren


I just stare at her. I don’t believe her at all.

She sighs. She must know I’m a lost cause. “You have no idea how adorable your freckles are, do you?”

“Just what every girl wants to be. Adorable. You look like Audrey Hepburn come to life.”

That makes her laugh. “Wouldn’t that be nice. I could go off on a holiday in Rome.”

“You’d have to escape first,” I remind her. That’s how the movie goes. We’ve both watched it a hundred times. There’s only so many things you can do while stuck in a mansion. Read a book. Practice yoga with a DVD instructor.

“Well,” she says lightly. “That can be for later. For now, we need to get you dressed. And I have an idea.”

She digs through her closet and comes up with a black wrap dress. The fabric has enough give that I can fit into it. It expands to accommodate my hips, falling above my knees instead of below, looking flirty instead of vintage. It’s cute.

I stare at myself in the mirror. Really cute.

Except…

“That’s not going to cut it,” Honor says, staring at my cleavage. It’s hard not to stare. My cleavage is practically busting out of this dress, straining at the top.

So much for looking my best. “I’m hopeless.”

She shakes her head. “Nothing a little double-sided tape can’t solve. We’ll add a shawl that covers up the rest.”

She disappears to find this magical tape and shawl that’s going to fix me. With her gone, I suck in my stomach and lift my body, in what I guess is a seductive pose. The truth is I have no idea what seduction would be like. My mind flashes to Giovanni’s hand stroking my hair, my neck. His thumb brushing my lips. And then slipping between them, resting on my tongue.

My whole body flushes warm.

I imagine Giovanni in the room with me. What would he think of this dress?

What would he think of this cleavage? I wonder if I’ll get a chance to show him. He might be at the party. My mind is awash in fantasies. Dancing on the ballroom floor. Stealing a kiss in the garden.

I know they’re stupid dreams. His father is a foot soldier—they don’t often get invited to these kinds of affairs, much less their underage sons. And even if Gio came, would he dance with me? Or would that tip off our fathers that we knew each other?

There are a hundred reasons why it’s a bad idea. But sometimes it feels like if I want it enough, if I wish hard enough, it might happen anyway.

* * *

We are lounging side-by-side on the old, musty sofa. One earbud is in my left ear, the other is in Gio’s right. Above us, dust floats in the moonlight. I’m back in my standard jeans and tank top. No longer glamorous or over-the-top sexy. But this moment feels so perfect it almost hurts. I want a million of these moments, strung like beads on a necklace, one after the other.

When the third Glee song comes on, Giovanni slants me a dark look that makes me giggle.

“What?” I ask, going for innocent. But I don’t quite succeed. I like making him suffer with fun songs. He doesn’t tell me that much about his life outside of these nights, but I know there’s not enough fun in it.

“Really?” he says.

I sing along. “Don’t stop believing…”

He groans, but I see the smile that plays on his lips. He likes it. “You know high school is nothing like that show, right?”

“Duh,” I say. “That’s not even realistic. It’s obviously more like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

He flicks his thick fingers lightly against my arm. “Smart-ass.”

I stick my tongue out, which probably proves him right. I don’t care. “Hey, it’s not my fault I never got to go. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have to guess what high school is like. I would already know.”

“I don’t agree with much your father does, but I think he got that part right.”

Stung, I face the ceiling again. “Whatever.”

“I’m just saying people would know who your father is. It makes you a target.”

“So I should just never live, is that what you’re saying? I should just stay locked up and marry whoever he tells me to and dress however Byron says—”

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