Dante's Girl (Page 40)

Dante’s Girl (The Paradise Diaries #1)(40)
Author: Courtney Cole

“I think it’s beautiful,” I confirm.  “You are so lucky to live here.  It’s so pretty.  It’s perfect.”

“It’s only perfect when you are here,” he tells me seriously.  And I laugh.  Dante has the ability to say so many corny things without seeming corny at all. It’s a true gift.  He reaches over and grabs my hand, nestling it within his on his leg.

I suck my air in.

My fingers are on Dante’s thigh.

It seems so intimate.

It is so intimate.  OhMyWord.

My lungs have a spasm and I practically choke.

Have I mentioned to him that I’m a virgin?

Breathe.

Breathe.

Why am I such an idiot?

We’re simply holding hands.

On his thigh.

He looks over at me and grins an ornery grin.  And then he guns the engine. We whirl down the winding road and my hair twirls above my head, whipped by the wind.  I clutch the handle on the door, but I don’t say a word.  The car hugs the ground and Dante drives it expertly.

“If you think you’re scaring me, you’re crazy!” I call above the wind.  “I grew up sliding around dirt corners in farm trucks.”

Dante laughs and shifts gears and we race even faster along the silvery road.  I clutch the door handle harder, but I’m really not afraid. I just don’t want to slide around in my seat. I trust him.  He’s too responsible to get out of control with the car.

We breeze onto a side road and the landscape around us became twisted and viney and even more rugged, but still gorgeous.  It looks like orchards line the road.  But I look closer and see that tiny olives are on the tree branches.   They look almost like pebbles from here.

“Are these yours?” I ask, motioning around us.

Dante nods and I realize that the car is slowing down.  I futilely mess with my hair but it’s a lost cause.  So I give up, wrapping it up in a ponytail holder.  I’ll deal with the tangles later.

We pull up to two massive wrought-iron gates that are standing wide open.  There are G’s on each gate.

Giliberti.

I look at this majestic arched iron gate and then picture the old faded white wooden fence that lines our property back home and sigh.  The only gates that we have are to keep the cows and horses in.  They are fastened together with a thick chain and the cows chew at the fence, so there are bite marks everywhere.

There are no bite marks here, of that I am certain.  What I am looking at is surely a scene straight from a painting.  A four feet high stone wall frames in the property and even though it is probably very old, it is in immaculate condition.

As we pass under the arch, trees line each side of the shady lane now, but not olive trees. These are trees with white blossoms of some sort.  The blossoms drift peacefully down and flutter along the road, beautiful and tranquil.

“Callery Pear trees,” Dante tells me before I have a chance to ask.

I can smell the sweet scent all around me.  It’s in the air, permeating my clothes, soaking into my hair.  Combined with the cool breeze that brings in the scents of the ocean, it’s amazing.  The leaves on the trees above us rustle soothingly and I reach over and grasp Dante’s hand again.

“Your home is beautiful,” I tell him.  “It’s like paradise.”

“I know,” he answers.  His golden hair is fluttering in the breeze and his face is so happy, so perfectly serene.  I can truly see that this is where he belongs. Not in the Old Place in Valese.   But here.  In the cool, calming olive groves.  He even looks at home here.  He might say that he wants a choice in his future, but I know right here and now, that his choice will always involve this estate.

A house looms massively ahead of us on the left.  It looks like something you would find on an old Southern plantation, except it is made from white stucco. And it’s bigger. It’s beautiful, like everything else here.  It sprawls far and wide and has tons of windows facing us.  It looks warm and welcoming.

It looks like Dante’s home.

I look at him and he’s practically glowing as he noses the car into a parking slot in a semi-circular parking area in front of the house.  The tires crunch on gravel and the car comes to a smooth stop.

Dante leaps from the car and flies around to open my door in two seconds flat.  He’s anxious for me to see his home and I think that’s sweet.   And honestly, I’m sort of anxious to see it too.  I want to learn more about Dante and I have a feeling this is where I will learn it.

It sounds stupid to say, but I can feel him here.  In everything around me, I feel Dante. And while I know it sounds stupid to say, it’s the truth.

We walk up to the house and the white stone steps are wide. The porch wraps around most of the front of the house, which is unusual for this type of home.  There is wicker furniture here with white silk cushions and large antique looking rugs.  The front doors are huge and heavy and mahogany, also unusual for this type of home.  It’s clear that this home was personally designed by someone and it has an eclectic, unique feel.

Dante pushes the front doors open, bows slightly and gives an “After you” motion with his arm.

I step ahead and pause inside, looking around.

And I stare, practically wonderstruck.

It’s beautiful here.  Warmth and sunlight swirl around and it feels like I’m wrapped in a cozy, peaceful blanket.  The feeling around me is serene and soft, like I’ve stepped into a beautiful painting or an enchanted place.  I feel instantly at home, instantly at peace.

“Welcome to Giliberti House,” Dante says with a proud grin. “This is the foyer.  The wood on the banister there,” and he points to a huge staircase spilling into the foyer, “Is made from six hundred year old trees.  The marble that you are stepping on right now was brought in by hand hundreds of years ago by Gilibertis.  Gilibertis built this house and there has been a Giliberti in it ever since.”

The pride in his voice makes me feel warm all over.  It’s so refreshing.  I want to reach over and brush the hair out of his eyes, but I don’t.

A tiny elderly woman with gray hair walks in and Dante greets her with a hug and a kiss on each cheek.

“Marionette,” he grins.  “It’s been too long, mami.”  He turns to me. “Marionette is French.  She moved to Caberra long ago to marry her young groom.  And they are still happily married today.  Her husband, Darius, is the foreman here.  He’s worked for us for a very long time.”