Dante's Girl (Page 31)

Dante’s Girl (The Paradise Diaries #1)(31)
Author: Courtney Cole

He holds out his arm, and I stare at him.  Am I supposed to take it?  If I touch him will his guards throw me to the ground and subdue me? I see Buzz Cut in the distance, watching our interaction with his hawk-like eyes and I’m sure that he’d love to manhandle me.  Jerk.

Dante helps me by gently undoing my hold on his arm and subtly stepping away.  He’s silently giving me permission, I can tell.  I shoot him a look of gratitude.  I’m such a fish out of water here.

I grasp Dimitri’s arm as lightly as I can, while trying not to spill the champagne that I am holding in my other hand all over him.  I also have to try and not trip on my skirt in my stilts-from-hell.  I’m so screwed.  I’ve never been a great multi-tasker.

Dimitri guides me through the crowd and introduces me to various VIP’s, including Elena’s mother and Gavin’s father.  They are both very friendly and social.  I expected it out of Gavin’s family, but not Elena’s.  But her mother is perfectly friendly.  Perfect manners.  Perfect face, just like Elena.

Once we have made the rounds, Dimitri guides me to a nearby elegant table where he slides a chair out for me, then slides it back in after I have taken a seat.  He sits beside me and I watch Dante mingle across the room.  He checks on me every once in awhile.  I see him look at me.  Our eyes meet and he smiles, then he continues his conversation.

I wish he is the one sitting with me.

But he’s not.

I’m sitting with the Prime Minister.

Of a country.

Dimitri watches me.  “You like my son, yes?” he asks.  He and Dante have the same accent.

“Your son is extremely nice,” I tell him.  “He has the most perfect manners that I’ve ever seen. You should be very proud. He puts all of the boys from back home to shame.”

“Ah, America,” Dimitri muses thoughtfully.  “Tell me of your home, Miss Ellis.  I do love hearing about other countries.  America is particularly fascinating.”

He takes a sip of champagne and motions for me to do the same.  So I do.  It’s fruity and bubbly and not as sweet as you would think.  I decide that it must be an acquired taste.  And I haven’t acquired it yet. But at least I don’t choke on it this time.  Baby steps, I guess.

I start talking about home.  I tell him about the farms, the sunflowers, the wretched summer heat, the storms, the tornadoes, the friendly people.  Before I even realize it, I’ve been talking for fifteen minutes and my champagne glass is empty.  Mr. Giliberti motions for a waiter, who arrives with a fresh glass within seconds.

He’s the Prime Minister.  He obviously doesn’t have to wait.

“Your home sounds lovely,” he tells me in his charming accent.  “Especially the people.  I have heard that the people from America’s heartland are truly some of the friendliest in the world.”

I nod.  “I agree with that.  It’s certainly true of Kansans.”

He sips at his champagne and I notice a huge glittering Onyx ring on his ring finger.  It looks like a black eye. I sip at my fresh glass of champagne.

“Tell me more about you,” he encourages me.  “You are entering your last secondary school, yes?”

It takes me a second to realize that he means high school and I nod.

“Yes.  I’ll be a senior this year, like Dante.”

“Where will you be going to University after that?” he asks politely.

I shake my head.  “I don’t know yet.  All I know is that I want to get into marketing.  I think that sounds fun.  So I suppose I’ll have to find out which schools are best for that.”

Dimitri’s eyes light up.  “Ah, marketing.  Such an interesting field,” he says and I can tell that he means it.  “Has Dante mentioned that we own an olive business?  We have to dabble in marketing strategy ourselves.  It’s quite interesting.  We employ a marketing team, of course, but I do enjoy working with them.  What are your plans for this summer?  Perhaps you would like to intern with them.”

I stare at him, speechless.

Did he just invite me to stay for the summer?
Dante’s voice interrupts my fog.

“Reece!  That’s a brilliant idea!  You could stay and work for Giliberti Olives.  It would look great on your college applications.  Do you think your parents would let you?”

I’m dumbfounded.

I could stay in Caberra with the most beautiful boy in the world, working in his beautiful olive groves.

I find myself nodding.  “I’m sure they would be flattered that you think that I am able,” I stammer.

Dimitri laughs. “Of course you are able,” he tells me.  “You’ll be an intern.  It’s an entry level position and you will learn quite a bit, I am sure. I can tell that you are a quick study.  I will personally call your parents in the morning to gain their permission.  It will be a wonderful opportunity for you.”

I stare at Dante in shock.  He looks pleased.

A wonderful opportunity?  Try amazingly-awesome-I’m going to wet my pants-opportunity.  That’s how awesome it is.

“Thank you, sir,” I tell Dimitri. “This is so nice of you. I’m speechless.  I don’t even know what to say.”

“Well, I can think of one thing you shouldn’t say,” he answers with a twinkle in his eye.  “Sir.  Don’t call me sir.  You are a family friend.  Please, call me Dimitri.”

I feel shocked again.  I’m on a first name basis with the leader of a country?

Surely this is a dream.  It has to be.

Numbly, I nod.  “Okay.  Thank you.  Dimitri.”

He looks satisfied and takes his leave.

I’m left alone with Dante, which to be honest, I am ecstatic about.

“Will your parents say yes?” Dante asks me.  He sits down beside me and hands me another glass of champagne.  This will be my third glass.  I take it with amazingly agile fingers.  I’ve got this.  I’ve so got this.

And then I realize that the liquid courage has worked.  I feel invincible. I’m not even nervous anymore.  About anything.  My mind is a little foggy but I can deal with that.  It makes me a little detached…takes the worry away.  I find that I quite like it.  And then I giggle because it makes me think words like quite.