Authors: Melinda Hunter
“Thanks. I’ve been slaving all day, making the raviolis by hand and stomping grapes into wine for the sauce.” Sana knew she was a smartass, but being around Arrigo had only encouraged her.
I would hate to eat something that wasn’t made by your beautiful hands.” Arrigo walked over and took her left hand in his. Nibbling on the pads of her fingers, he stared at her through hooded eyes.
“I was thinking about getting an apartment.” Arrigo continued to kiss and nip at her fingers.
“Oh really?” Sana tried to hide her concern, but she knew she failed miserably.
“Yes and I was hoping you would move in with me, but if you don’t want to we don’t have to.” Arrigo shrugged his shoulders, acting nonchalant.
Sana stopped stirring the sauce and looked at him. “Do you really mean it?”
“I wouldn’t have asked if I didn’t mean it. I th
ought we could use the privacy.”
Sana tried to remain cool about the topic, but inside she
wasn’t sure if she should celebrate the idea or fear it. A sudden panic blanketed her. The past few weeks with Arrigo had been new and exciting for her, but to move out of the Sentinel Headquarters and into an apartment would take her out of her comfort zone.
Forcing an obvious smile, she nodded and pulled her hand back. Stirring the sauce
, she thought about the change. Would it really be that much different than being here in her room?
“We don’t have to. It was just a thought.”
Arrigo’s dejected tone cut right through Sana and to make the moment worse he walked away. In an instant, she realized that being apart from him would kill her. She couldn’t even remotely imagine spending a night without him. Her heart pounded and true panic took over.
Quickly, she flipped the burner of
f and set the sauce aside. Although he wasn’t more than twenty feet away from her, she darted to find him in the bathroom.
“I want to go with you.” She sounded breathless and she knew it. Her eyes stung with the hint of tears as the thought of him leaving her there alone lingered in the back of her mind.
Arrigo pulled on a shirt and as he looked up at her, her body warmed. His green eyes were bright and full of excitement. Then, a smile crossed his face.
“I just want it to be the two of us.” Arrigo took a step toward her.
“No, security cameras in the halls, no one around to spy on us.” Shaking his head, he continued. “No one to see me strip you naked and kiss every square inch of your body.”
With his last statement, he slid his hands over her hips. “You know it won’t be much
different than living here, but we’ll be completely alone.”
couldn’t breathe as Arrigo slid his hands over her hips and when he dipped his head to her ear she shivered at his breath.
I just want you all to myself.” With his intent clear, her mind rejoiced. He
“I’d like that,” Sana whispered back.
Arrigo kissed her cheek and promptly slapped her on the butt.
“Let’s eat. I don’t want you getting mad at me.” Arrigo knew her
very well already. A new joy inside her spread and she became anxious to find an apartment together.
“That’s the last of it.” Sana let out a sigh as she put down the last box of her things. She only had her clothes and a few personal items besides her arsenal, but that arsenal wasn’t small. Her guns, knives and armor had taken up five boxes, let alone her gun safe and since it was Sunday, they wasn’t anyone at HQ to ask questions.
Arrigo on the other hand
only had three boxes. He hadn’t been stateside long enough to have anything other than his military uniforms, what little clothes he’d purchased in the last month, and two guns. Still, it had only taken them a few short hours to move their things in.
They had picked out an apartment that was actually available right away and seizing the opportunity, they moved in two days before Christmas.
Looking around the bare apartment, he realized that this was his first real home in over thirteen years. He had lived in military barracks, makeshift dorms, tents, or even on the ground in destroyed buildings or in the sand of the desert. Not anymore, though.
Everything with the apartment had happened within just a couple of days, but they
had enough time to buy a bed and have it delivered when they moved in. Now he not only had a bed to sleep in, but a woman that he could share it with. A woman that he couldn’t imagine living without.
“So, we got the bed, but we didn’
t get any sheets,” Sana stated. Arrigo laughed. They were in such a hurry, they hadn’t thought of everything else they might need.
Even though it was Sunday, it was early enough in the day though that they could go b
uy what they needed to get them through the next few days.
“I’m not very good at shopping,” Sana sighed. She arched a brow at him as if she wondered if he might possibl
y enjoy it any more than she did.
Macy’s?” he asked. Arrigo guessed that they could at least go to a department store to find sheets and he knew that Macy’s was close.
“Sounds like a good place to start.” Sana agreed.
Once they were at their destination and found the bedding department, Arrigo realized that picking out sheets might be a bit more complicated than he could have every imagined. A sales associate quickly approached them and inquired as to what they were looking for.
“We just need sheets and a blanket I guess?” Arrigo said.
“Were you interested in a certain thread count?” the woman asked. As if he knew what that meant.
didn’t help much when he saw that she looked as confused as he was.
Arrigo glanced at the sales woman’s nametag and decided he would take
a slightly different approach.
“Susan, can you do us a favor and just pick us out the best sheets and whatever else we might need for a king size bed?” Arrigo could all but see the dollar signs flashing in her eyes. He realized then that he was about to spend a small fortune just on sheets.
Not that money was an issue though. After thirteen years of active service in the Marines, Arrigo had saved most of his pay every year and had it invested in multiple high bearing accounts. He had managed to accumulate well over two million dollars.
As Susan walked them through the department, she handed Arrigo a set of sheets in pale blue, a
large bag with a dark blue comforter set in it.
“Do you need new pillows?” she asked.
“We don’t have any, so yes.” Sana announced.
They walked on to the pillows and before they
were done there, Susan had inquired about their purchases and within the next thirty minutes, they had selected towels, a small set of cookware, silverware, dinnerware and glasses.
Arrigo saw something that caught his attention across the store and
since he had already paid, he decided to go take a quick peek. Lightly grasping Sana’s elbow, he softly spoke to her.
“Can you get everything down to the car? I need to get something and I’ll meet you there.” Arrigo waited for her reply.
“Um, sure.” Sana looked up at him and then back to the sales associate.
“I’ll help you and we’ll get one of the guys to carry the rest.” Susan, the associate smiled at them.
“Good.” Arrigo excused himself and walked toward the other side of the store.
He met Sana at the car just as the employees were loading the purchases they had made.
“Did you find what you needed?” Sana asked. Arrigo noticed she looked him over as if she were looking for another shopping bag.
“No. They didn’t have it.”
Arrigo shrugged his shoulders and they left to get back to their apartment.
Luckily, they were off for the next few days. Since they were partners and they
didn’t have a current project that required attention so they could enjoy the holiday together, even though it was a secret.
Arrigo knew that they
couldn’t make their relationship public since the team might not understand and Williams might be just a tad pissed. No matter their secret, during the last few weeks, they hadn’t been apart for more than a few minutes here or there, but they also had made sure they were completely professional. Well, as professional as was expected. Arrigo still laughed to himself over an incident that occurred at a briefing in front of the entire team.
Sana was pissed that Williams was giving them a crappy
two-day assignment as bodyguards when they had just completed the Takahashi job. She was ready for some reconnaissance work or a raid. Arrigo had tried to calm her and it only infuriated her further. Sana stood up and went to storm out of them room. When Arrigo called her name, she simply raised her arm behind her and flipped them all off.
He could only laugh at her. The
guys wished him luck as the meeting ended and he went to find her.
Even now, in the car, he laughed aloud.
“What’s so funny?” Sana asked. Arrigo noted a half smile on her face as she drove.
“I wasn’t really expecting to have to buy all of that today.” Arrigo nodded toward the trunk of the car.
He lied because he didn’t want to get her riled up.
“Me either. Hey,
I’ll pay for half. I didn’t even think about it.” Sana sounded almost panicked which seemed odd to him. She never sounded panicked.
“I’ve got it covered.” Arrigo chuckled.
“No really, I’ll pay you back for part,” Sana insisted.
“Sana, it really doesn’t matter. I’ll tell you a secret if you don’t yell at me.” Sana had told him that she had inherited millions from her father, but she
didn’t know he had saved and invested his earnings.
“What secret?” she scowled.
Arrigo leaned to her ear as she pulled into their parking garage.
“I have my own millions, thank you very much,” he whispered.
“Oh really! Well then why the hell are you working?” She put the car in park and looked over at him.
“The same reason you are.” Giving her a quick peck on her cheek
, he turned to get out of the car.
As they carried everything up to their apartment
, Arrigo explained how he had managed his money and since his parents didn’t need any he saved it.
They spent the evening unpacking the dishes and putting them away as well as their towels and making the bed.
“I’m going to shower before we get in.” Arrigo wanted to be nice and clean. He always liked the scent of freshly washed sheets. Clean sheet night. It made him smile for a moment, but nothing was better than being with Sana.
“Okay. I’m going to pick up some of the trash,” she replied.
“I can help with that first.” Arrigo definitely didn’t want her thinking that he was a slob or that she should clean up after him. Walking back toward her, he bent over to pick up an empty package.
Sana stopped him and pressed her hand against his chest. “I’ve got it. You go shower. Besides, when you get out I’ve got some grooming to do and you can entertain yourself for a little bit.”
Her smile told it all. Arrigo turned and walked back toward the bathroom to clean up and even shave. As he showered, he wondered if she would want a Christmas tree. He thought he might have to ask her. The last time he remembered having a tree that he helped decorate was in the fifth grade. That was the last Christmas he remembered as a kid. After that, his father treated him as a man. No more toys, just school and work.
Shaking off those long lost memories Arrigo turned off the water, stepped out of the sh
ower so he could dry off, and went ask Sana about a tree.
“Would you want a tree—” Arrigo stopped midsentence when he found Sana standing in the bedroom with his coat draped over one arm and in the other she held a piece of
paper and the small black box he had just bought. Arrigo felt his stomach twist into knots. How stupid did one person have to be to leave
in his pocket? He racked his brain with the numerous times he could have hidden it since they had returned from the store. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
“Are you out of your mind?” she snapped. Arrigo opened his mouth to speak but she shouted and cut him off again. “I mean really? You spent thirty-two thousand
dollars? You must have had brain damage with that shrapnel, but if you didn’t— Well, are you going to say something or just stand there?”
Arrigo hesitated to speak bec
ause his fear went beyond her wrath and to what her rejection would do to him. Within that brief moment, Arrigo struggled to find the words that would best fit the situation. He definitely hadn’t planned to be dripping wet, wearing only a towel and having Sana accidentally find the ring he had bought on the spur of the moment.
he definitely hadn’t planned on her finding the receipt.
I. I don’t know what to say.” Arrigo stared at her hoping she might give him some idea of how she felt.