Love and Crime in Rome

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 7 (v.1)

Submitted: September 10, 2014

Reads: 143

Comments: 1

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Submitted: September 10, 2014



He looked at her for a long moment and frowned darkly, increasing the fear in her chest; then crossed the pale carpet between them in three strides and grabbed her by her narrow shoulders.

“Are you hurt?” he asked urgently, looking her up and down.

Immediately her anger rose up hot inside her. She pulled away from his grip and twisted the shirt in her small hands.

“No, just terrified, thanks. Why am I here? Who are these people? What are you doing here? Do you live here? I want to go home right now!”  She demanded shrilly and then ran out of breath in her panic.

Niki’s face was filled with concern and she felt terror blur her vision for a moment. Evangeline found herself back on the same velvet couch in front of the cold fireplace again, with Niki stroking her back in a calming gesture. Evangeline realized that she was going to cry and swallowed it up, the pressure in her throat almost choking her. The weight of his hand on her body made her mad again.

“Stop touching me! Tell me what’s going on.” She demanded.

Niki’s handsome face fell, but he removed his hand from her and sat back. “I’ll tell you. Calm down. Please.” He said quietly but urgently, holding her eyes with his.  

She took some deep breaths but the panic was still there under the surface. “Ok. I’m sorry. I’m listening.” She examined his face.

Niki tried to smile at her. “Would you believe you’re here for my birthday party?” His smile twisted crookedly.

Her mouth dropped open, showing the small crowding in her lower front teeth. “For your, for your…” she thought her head might explode with fury. He saw it on her face and put his hands, palms outward, to his broad chest in a defensive gesture.

“Really, I’m not mocking you. This is my house, and the men who brought you here are assistants to a guy I know through work.”

“The creepy guy in the pink suit.” She asserted and he smiled without real humour, nodding.

“That’s the one. I’m surprised you don’t like him. He usually has lots of luck with the ladies.”

She snorted in disbelief. “If he’s a friend of yours, why did he scare the crap out of me?”

Nike shrugged and looked evasive. “He and I aren’t that friendly. I wasn’t joking, though. Boris really did pick you up to join the party tonight. I’m 36 today.”

“Happy birthday,” she said to him, in a voice that dripped with distain. “Are you having a nice time?” She folded her arms across her ample chest and looked out the window at the darkening blue sky.

 He looked seriously back at her. “No, not really. You shouldn’t be here, but I can’t send you home right now. Too many things are going on that I cannot explain to you now. Will you trust me for tonight? I swear I’ll answer all your questions after everyone leaves.”

She looked into his eyes and wished she was better at reading people. She often felt that she was naïve when it came to understanding the motivations of others, and yet was also inclined to think the worst of people. That was why she tried so hard to give them the benefit of the doubt, but she often got burned as a result.

Niki had watched the play of her emotions across her face while she considered, and Evangeline wondered how much he had read there.

She stood up suddenly. “I have to think without you looking at me,” and she stormed into the massive bathroom and locked the door. Sitting on the broad edge of the white bathtub surround, she tried to think clearly. The room was a clean and fresh as a hotel ensuite, with silver towels picking up the accents of the silver tub and shower fixtures. The only sign of currently occupancy was the shampoo and soap in the shower and the toothbrush between the double sinks on the vanity. He must have a staff, she thought. How nice for him, she sneered in her head, and tried to focus again on the situation at hand.

All she really knew of Niki was that he was punctual, a quality she admired as it showed respect for others, and that he had taken her out and brought her home safe twice now. She decided to trust him a little while longer, although really she didn’t have much of a choice. She thought some more about her other, very limited, options of either running out of the house into the growing dark, or climbing out a window, she realized that he was just being courteous, asking for her consent to a situation where he held all the power anyway.

He looked relieved when she exited the bathroom and consented to listen to his plan.

“People are coming here for dinner tonight. My plan is that you enjoy your evening as my guest, and I’ll take you home tomorrow. Would you do this for me? It’s really important or I would never put you in this situation.”

“Yes, of course.” She submitted meekly. She decided to brazen things out until she was in a better position to negotiate.

Niki smiled at her and she saw clear relief in his eyes. “Great. Good. Thank you. They’ll be here soon. I better get ready.” He stood to his full height, far above her where she sat on the couch, and moved to the bathroom door.

She stopped him, looking down at herself in her now wrinkled blue and white skirt and blouse which had been so fresh earlier in the day. “Wait. What should I wear? I don’t even have my purse.”

He smiled in relief, his eyes crinkling in the corners. “Not a problem.” Evangeline sat cross-legged on the thick brown duvet on the king sized bed while Niki removed a large white box from a high shelf in the dressing room and opened it on the bed in front of her.

Inside was an evening dress in the perfect shade of red velvet. She lifted it out of the white tissue to see matching red high heeled sandals underneath.

“Where did you get this?” she asked him, furrowing her brow. “Who’s it for?”

Niki looked uncomfortable, and spread the long fingers of each hand in a questioning gesture at her. “I had it made. I was going to give it to you, before. I thought….” He trailed off and looked away from her.

Evangeline felt hot blood flood her face and swung her fair hair forward to hide it. She looked at the dress in her lap. “That was… I mean, it’s very kind. It’s beautiful.” She didn’t know what to think. Was it creepy, that he’d had this made for her or was it thoughtful? She couldn’t decide. But at least it solved the immediate problem.  

“Please, take the bathroom. I’ll get changed in my dressing room.” Niki hurried away, and Evangeline watched the play of muscles in his back through the thin cotton of his t-shirt as he retreated into the other room.

Evangeline took the dress into the bathroom. She missed having her own toiletries, but Niki’s drawer in the vanity had at least been able to provide her with a new, unused toothbrush and toothpaste. She washed her face with a silver washcloth from the shelf above the tub, and pinched her cheeks to give her pale, worried face some colour.

She slipped into the dress and smiled to herself despite the situation. Maybe it’s the after effect of terror, she thought. She wanted to giggle at the ridiculousness of it all, but she was actually enjoying putting on her weird, mystery dress given to her by this strange, non-boyfriend of hers.

She turned her attention to the dress. It’s funny how you can sometimes tell right away when you first try something on, if it’s going to look great. It’s like your body knows right away, before you even look into the mirror. The miracle of good fit, she thought.

She struggled with the zipper behind her but could only reach to pull it up part way. She left it and looked at herself in the mirror. If Niki hadn’t really made the dress for her, it must have been made for her unknown twin, she thought. It fit like a glove, hugging her petite but voluptuous figure in soft red fabric and emphasizing all the right curves.

The straps of her bra showed above the low neckline so she took it off. She was glad that the dress was built with an interior support as she was too large to go braless without it. She loved well made clothes. She guessed that was one thing that she and Niki had in common.

She put on the delicate matching red evening sandals. How did he know the size of my feet? She wondered uneasily at the weirdness of that, but shrugged the question off for now with all the other mysteries. She brushed her hair out with his brush on the counter and pinned it up on her head in a loose bun.

Nervously, she stepped out of the bathroom.


Niki was lounging on the large couch with his back to her; his feet propped on the low wooden coffee table and his hands laced behind his head. His hair was brushed softly back from his forehead in gentle waves, instead of his usual gel, and for a moment Evangeline felt a sudden desire to run her hands through the dark blond curls.

She walked around the couch to meet his eyes, his handsome but stern face caught in early evening shadow. She thought he looked tired. What does he do all day, Evangeline wondered to herself.

“I’m all ready. What’s the plan?” she asked, standing with her hands on her hips, feeling nervous butterflies form. She hoped that she wouldn’t be sick to her stomach.

Niki removed his hands from behind his head and lifted his large frame from the couch in one smooth motion, coming to stand in front of her. Evangeline looked up at him, stepping back so she didn’t get a kink in her neck. Her small hands were taken in Niki’s own warm ones, and he took a deep breath.

“Ok. Here’s the short version. The guy down stairs, Bruno, is an asshole. I work with him, but he’s dangerous. I’ve been trying to avoid going back to Russia with him, and I gave you as my excuse.” He explained quickly, looking earnestly down into her face.

“Your excuse?” she interrupted with agitation. “What does any of this have to do with me? I don’t even know him.”

“Yes, but…” Niki hesitated. “I told him I’d met an amazing woman in Rome, and I wasn’t ready to leave yet. I told him that you were my girlfriend and I was trying to convince you to move with me back to Moscow.” He admitted, shamefaced.

“That’s a total lie.” She looked away, and slid her hands out of his.

“No, it isn’t. You are an amazing woman,” Niki smiled at her with real amusement. She laughed but refused to be distracted.

“Why don’t you want to go back to Moscow, really? Or can’t you tell me.” Too late, she remembered that she didn’t want to know anything about his work, and intended not to see him anymore.

Niki looked at her seriously. “I can tell you if you want to know. But not now. Later, I promise.” She nodded and dismissed that train of thought, and tried to get to the gist of what he was saying as he paced around in front of her, more nervous than she had ever seen him.

“So, I’m here to act like your girlfriend for tonight?” Light was beginning to dawn on her. This might not be so difficult. It was just one night, after all, she told herself with false bravado. But acting had never come easily to her, and lying was even worse. She was only a successful liar when she was able to honestly forget what it was that she was supposed to conceal.

Niki seemed relieved by her quick grasp of the situation and stopped walking around the room to squeeze her bare shoulder in agreement. “Yes, please just pretend to be my girlfriend tonight, but talk about how you love Rome and don’t know if you’ll ever want to leave it. If anyone tries to get you to tell where you live specifically, don’t tell them.” His grip on her shoulder tightened and she was afraid all over again.  

I can do this, she thought, and nodded her head at him with as much confidence as she could. “Let’s go.” She said, and grinned at him.

Niki looked into her face closely, saw the fear and worry there, and bent down to kiss her lips tenderly. Evangeline wished they were anywhere else right now.  Slowly, he turned her around and ran his hand down her back, giving her the shivers, and then she felt him pull the zipper of her dress to the top. His hand lingered on her neck.

“You don’t know how grateful I am for you. Thank you.” He said simply, and led her out the door back into the hallway.

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