Not that it could be called a request, thought Iris as she made her way down the stairs and into the drawing room. Alessandro may have said he was requesting her presence but in truth, it was really a command.
For a moment, she stood still as she saw him pouring his favourite whiskey out of the decanter. He literally took her breath away every time she looked at him. Her heart ached at the thought of loving him, yet she will never be on the receiving end of his love.
He looked splendidly handsome, in a navy blue suit, with white shirt and white pocket square and a grey tie. He picked up his glass and made his way to the sofa by the fireplace, but he didn’t sit down. He stood there by the fireplace, with one hand in his pocket and the glass in another. He was deep in thought, far away. What was he thinking about, she wondered. What ever it was, it didn’t seem to make him any happier. Perhaps he was already regretting his proposal?
Irrationally, Iris felt disquiet stir in her at the idea. She scolded herself. There was no cause for her to be upset at the thought of him withdrawing his proposal. If he was regretting his offer of marriage, it would only be easier for her to go away. Annoyed with herself, she frowned and cleared her throat to announce her presence before she entered the room.
Alessandro saw Iris enter the room. In a glance he took her frown and her appearance, and his breath hitched in his throat. She might be frowning, but that didn’t make her look any less beautiful. She was enchanting and her dress enhanced her curvy figure. Her breasts looked plump and ready to be plucked. A fierce wave of possessiveness took his body as he looked at her. She was his- he didn’t want anyone looking at her and having the sort of thoughts he had for her.
“You look beautiful tonight, tesoro.” His voice, he realised, was too full of need as he looked away from her and took a deep gulp of his drink. He needed to keep his wits about him, not make a fool of himself like a teenager. Casually, he added “You might want to get a wrap. It will be a little chilly outside.”
“Thank you, and I do realise it might be chilly. I have a light jacket with me. I have simply left it outside by the door.” Iris said, slightly mollified to find Alessandro showing concern for her.
“What would you like to drink, cara?” Alessandro asked her, going to the drinks cabinet.
“A glass of tonic water please. “Iris answered, thinking it was essential for her to keep a clear head this evening. She must do all to keep him at distance this evening and not be seduced by his charm today- not if she wanted to get out of this situation with sensibility and only a broken heart. She must not be seduced or she would never be able to move on.
“As you wish.” Alessandro said, hiding a smile. He was well aware of Iris’s thoughts. The thought of Iris fearing her seduction filled him with amusement and tenderness. He handed her the drink and gestured her to sit down.
Iris sat down at the chair next to the fireplace, her back straight, her body tensed. She looked into her glass, avoiding Alessandro’s piercing gaze.
“How was your day with children? Anything I should know about?”
Alessandro’s question brought an unwitting smile upon Iris’s face. Without a second thought, she related the incident of Antonio’s tantrum and said, “At that moment, he looked so much like you Alessandro!” Iris giggled, “You look just as surly when you don’t get what you want.”
Alessandro chuckled, “He is my son, he will be like me.”
“Yes, of course.”
Her softly spoken agreement gave him pause for thought. And it also annoyed him. Did she have to sound so sad by that fact? He finished the remaining drink in his glass and put it aside, to stare into flames.
Iris sighed softly.
It was clear to her that it wouldn’t occur to Alessandro how tragic she felt to realise that the boys had his traits, but none of hers. Of course the sensible and realistic side of her knew that it was not possible for the boys to have any of her traits. After all, she wasn’t their birth mother. And yet, it might have comforted her if Alessandro had said something soothing like maybe Ernesto took after her since he was gentle or something like that.
Shaking her head at her own foolishness, Iris stood up and said, “I am ready to leave when you are. “
Saying this, she went out of the room and picked up her jacket from the coat hanger next to the door.
“Allow me cara.”
Iris froze as she felt Alessandro’s hands on her shoulders, trying to help her put the jacket on. Taking a deep breath silently, she allowed him to help her, easing a bit when his hands fell from her shoulders.
The next second her eyes widened as she felt his hands at her waist, turning her around.
She looked up straight into his eyes. She forgot to breathe. For once, there was no twinkle of laughter in them. There was no fire of want in them. Instead, they were serious and -anxious. They were vulnerable! Shocked at the notion that Alessandro would ever feel vulnerable and actually let her see it, she blinked and looked again. They remained serious.
Confused totally by his stare, she mumbled, “What–”
Alessandro bent down and kissed her softly, but fleetingly on the lips, saying “I am happy that you have accepted my proposal. Let us get out of this house to have a pleasant evening together Iris, mia bella. No fights, no arguments this evening. I just want to enjoy your company this evening. “
Her resolve to talk things through tonight and tell him of her intentions dissolved under Alessandro’s sincere gaze. She smiled her first genuinely warm smile to him in weeks and said, “ Truce.”