The Twelve Vitali Ch. 14

Haziran 20, 2024 Yazar admin 0


Authors note: Hello everyone. Happy Holidays! Thank you once again to Paul who continues to be my second set of eyes. I will see you all again after my vacation for more of this story. Whatever you plan to do over the holidays, make sure you enjoy it! ~ellie.


“Todays the big day, huh?” Matteo asked, taking the cup she offered him.

“Yeah,” Cat sighed. “I had no idea it would take so long to add the few pieces I had at home together with the rest of the sketches and portrait. Roz seemed to change her mind all the time,” She sat on the edge of the bed and smiled crookedly at Matteo.

“You have nothing to do there today, right?” he asked. “You promised me your full attention today, all day, by my side. I think I’ve been pretty good about sharing you this week.” he had been at the gallery with her until late last night doing the final lighting checks and run through for the opening of the small exhibition, which would include the unveiling of the Donati portrait.

“Sharing? I think I’ve been pretty good about your demands this week,” she laughed.

“Hardly,” he rolled his eyes but picked up his vibrating phone and answered it before she could argue with him. “Papa,” he said, acknowledging Roberto on the other end of the call before Cat said anything she may not want him to overhear.

“Yes, I will be flying back on Monday,” he confirmed. “Yes, she will be coming back next week, but she wants to accept another commission from Peri before returning to Melbourne.” He sounded grumpy about being questioned about their movements again. “Maybe you should ask her yourself,” he grumbled.

Cat knew Roberto was asking about Matteo’s return to Melbourne and knew that Matteo didn’t want to leave her here alone yet. Not that she would be alone, but although Matteo had said he was grateful to Pete for his tutelage in the ways of tables he wasn’t as keen on their close friendship and the amount of time they spent alone together. She had other friends now, but she had to admit she enjoyed spending time with Pete as much as he seemed to enjoy her company. She easily admitted she missed the evenings they had spent together talking during the Gathering.

She stood up and took her mug back to the kitchen. She may as well shower and get ready for whatever Matteo had planned for today. She’d half expected him to come in and interrupt her shower, but when she emerged from the bathroom he was still on his phone, and she shook her head, laughing lightly as he held up a halter neck dress for her to wear.

“Is that still Roberto?” she whispered, taking the dress from his hands.

Matteo shook his head and mouthed the name, “Ricco.”

Cat pulled on the dress and lifted her arms to do up the halter on the back of her neck. She felt Mateo’s hand run lightly over the bare skin of her back and curl around her ribs to stroke the side of her breast before she danced away from him with a grin. While she wasn’t what anyone would call big busted, she was still big enough to feel awkward and slightly uncomfortable going without a bra. Matteo, on the other hand, seemed to favour backless dresses that lent themselves to going braless.

She grabbed a brush and began to put her hair up in a ponytail but found him beside her again, taking the band from her hand before she had a chance to put her hair up. While she understood and usually catered to his particular preferences, she found him to be more than a little overbearing this morning monitoring everything she did while still being on the phone with his brother. She went back into the bathroom to put on a light coat of make-up.

“I’ll be ready in fifteen,” Matteo murmured in her ear, his hands moving around her to stroke over the soft material covering her breasts as he kissed her neck. “Quick shower and then we’ll go for breakfast.”

Cat tidied up the bed and the debris of their clothes from the night before while Matteo got ready to go out for breakfast. He looked casual in jeans and a polo shirt that was just tight enough for her to admire the gorgeous body she knew so well beneath it.

“Let’s go,” he smiled and took her hand. The sun was shining brightly, and Cat grimaced knowing it was going to be another hot day. She didn’t think she would ever get used to the heat and humidity of living in Brisbane. It wasn’t that they didn’t have hot summer days in Melbourne, but the humidity here was something else, and she wished she had argued about putting her hair up before they left the apartment. They walked the block to the small café they both enjoyed and sat at a table on the sidewalk under a vast yellow umbrella.

She knew that Melbourne was famous for its café society, but she had never been part of that social scene, and she had come to love the small cafés and restaurants that were dotted around the Southbank here as well as in the parklands themselves. She once again considered the questions Matteo wanted answers to as her eyes flicked lazily over the menu.

“Roberto is coming bahis siteleri to the showing tonight, Josh invited him,” Matteo said casually.

“Oh, I forgot that Aria had mentioned that,” Cat looked at him in surprise. “Why would Josh invite him? I thought this was more of a family night for the Donati Table?”

“I believe he also invited Marcus Battaglia and Tomaso Farnese. I don’t believe there was any ulterior motive behind the invitation,” Mateo shrugged.

“Will Stefano come with him?” Cat asked.

“I don’t think so, but Theresa will be here,” he smiled. “Plus a few others,” he looked past her into the distance, and she turned to see what he was looking at.

“David?” Cat gasped. “What are you doing here?”

“My boss’s boss has this strange idea that he can tell me what to do on weekends as well as work days,” David shrugged. “Martin’s not very happy about the arrangement, yet again, but coming up here in a private jet was totally worth it.”

“You flew my brother up here to look at paintings he’s already seen half a dozen times?” she asked Matteo with a shake of her head.

“No, I asked him to help Frank. It just so happens that Frank was on his way here today,” Matteo shrugged innocently as Frankie and Anna joined their table for brunch.

“Don’t be silly, this is your first art show. Where else would we be? Besides, I want full credit for discovering your talent,” Frankie said, sweeping her up in an affectionate embrace and kissing both her cheeks.

“Don’t be such a big head,” Anna gently pushed her husband out of the way and embraced Cat, kissing her cheeks. “This is a very exciting day, you should be proud of what you have created. We are proud of you.”

“Thank you,” Cat said, wondering why these people were here. Only a few of the works that had survived Ned’s attacks and a couple she had painted between her pieces for Vanessa had been able to be shipped up to add to the sketches and portrait she had done for the Donati family. Most of her work since the attack now hung on the walls of the new corporate building in Melbourne, and one big piece hung on the wall of this couple’s house. It wasn’t going to be much of an art show.

“Oh, good, we’re in time. Can you organise a bigger table to include us, please, Matteo?” a woman’s voice asked from behind where Cat still stood with Anna. Cat turned and saw Theresa and Ricco standing and smiling at them.

“Of course, Mama,” Matteo said, throwing Cat an apologetic look that she didn’t quite buy.

“I’m so sorry to gatecrash your brunch like this, but Roberto had a meeting with Joshua, and we were at a bit of a loose end. It’s lovely to see you again, Catriona,” she embraced the young woman.

“It’s good to see you too, if a little surprising,” she said between blowing air kisses onto both of the other woman’s cheeks.

“Hi, Cat,” Ricco stepped forward to greet her, giving her a polite hug and kissing one cheek. “I’m sorry about this, I did suggest somewhere else.”

“It’s fine, honestly, the more, the merrier,” she said, knowing that the sentiment sounded false, even to her own ears.

“It won’t be so bad,” he whispered. “David’s here, that’s a good thing.”

“Why are you here?” she asked with a frown. She knew Josh had invited Roberto, and obviously Matteo had brought David and Frankie here, but she couldn’t see a reason why Ricco had come.

“Matteo’s been a bit slack lately when it comes to work, so I’ve become his personal servant and have come delivering the things he needed from Melbourne this morning,” he said with a chuckle. “You’d think that now that we are adults my big brother wouldn’t feel the need to boss me around the way he does.”

“You’d think being an adult you could say no to him,” she laughed teasingly.

“I believe you told Matteo no once, and I can see how well that worked out for you,” He teased back, enjoying the easy banter, despite the ache he felt inside when he was around her.

“I know, right! He’s so bossy!” she exclaimed. “It’s almost impossible to say no to him.”

“Yet she does it several times a day lately,” Matteo grumbled, taking her hand and guiding her back down to the seat beside him as their table was made bigger by dragging another small table to join theirs.

It was Ricco who ran interference for Cat, suggesting that she may want to sit beside her brother because she hadn’t seen him for quite some time when Theresa tried to manoeuvre to the seat beside Cat. From that point on the lunch went well with Frankie and Anna leading the conversation with funny anecdotes about their last visit to Queensland for a holiday during the two thousand and ten floods. Cat relaxed as they ordered and ate, joining in the conversations and laughing with the small group.

“I don’t think I have ever seen Matteo so relaxed,” Theresa commented to Anna, and Cat tilted her head as she overheard the statement, hoping to hear Anna’s answer.

“He seems very happy,” Anna replied canlı bahis siteleri with a smile. “Young love will do that for you, though, just look at Frankie and me,” she laughed as she picked up her husband’s hands, threading their fingers together.

Cat smiled. Like the Donati family, every couple she met in Matteo’s family seemed to be very much in love and not afraid to show it. She turned to look at Matteo, who was deep in discussion with Ricco, and took his hand in hers under the table, making him stop his conversation and turn to smile at her.

“Everything okay?” he asked, squeezing her hand.

“Yes,” she smiled back. “Thanks for bringing David up, it’s great to see him, even if he’s ignoring me.” She nudged her brother in the ribs.

“Cat, I love you and all, but Frankie thinks he can get us in to see the Lions training camp,” he hinted that he wanted to leave.

“Go, I believe we have plans for this afternoon as well, I’ll see you tonight. Where are you staying?” Cat asked, noticing that Matteo had gone back to his conversation with Ricco but hadn’t let go of her hand, and his thumb stroked her knuckles gently.

“The Treasury, it’s nice,” he said enthusiastically. Cat nodded but had no clue about hotels in this city, so she just took his word for it and would ask Matteo about it later.

“I think your Zio wants to go,” Cat whispered to Matteo, hoping she used the right term.

“What’s stopping him?” Matteo turned back to her.

“Us, I don’t think they want to be rude if we aren’t ready to leave as well,” she grimaced.

“We should probably be going, we have a few places to go before the art show tonight,” Matteo said loud enough for everyone to hear after checking his watch.

“We were hoping to get in a little footy training camp before tonight as well,” Frankie looked slyly at his wife. “Why don’t you ladies take your credits cards for a walk this afternoon and we’ll take Ricco with us.”

“That sounds like fun. What do you think, Theresa?” Anna enthused.

“I imagine Peri will be busy all afternoon. As will Roberto, no doubt. So, sure, why not,” Theresa agreed. She’d hoped to spend some time getting to know Cat, but realised that wouldn’t happen on this trip and she would have to wait until they returned to Melbourne.

“Sounds good to me,” Ricco agreed. “You two go have fun, I’ll get this.” He indicated the meal they’d just finished.

“Thanks, Mate,” Matteo got to his feet, pulling Cat up beside him.

“Thanks, Ricco,” Cat bent and kissed his cheek.

“That’s one hell of a dress, you look beautiful,” Ricco said before he could stop the words tumbling from his mouth, and brought his eyes up from her breasts to her face as she leaned back from the kiss.

“Thank you,” she said awkwardly.

“I’m looking forward to tonight. Good luck, I know it’s going to be great,” Ricco said encouragingly.

“Thanks for coming, Ricco, I do appreciate it, and that you have been doing so much in Melbourne while Matteo has been up here,” she said quietly, still feeling awkward.

“We’ve moved on, and we both love him,” he indicated Matteo with a nod of his head. “We are going to be friends, good friends, like we always were underneath the rest of it.”

“Thank you,” she said again. “For everything,” she added lamely. “I’ll see you all tonight,” she addressed the rest of the small group and followed Matteo from the restaurant.

“I feel dreadful with your family all coming up for the show tonight; I have barely got any art on display. Ned destroyed most of the canvasses that aren’t hanging in your building. All I have left are a few quick canvasses that aren’t much good and some sketches I did in preparation for the Donati portrait,” Cat worried. “I feel like a fraud.”

“Why are you suddenly worried?” Matteo asked as they walked back through the open-air mall in the centre of the city. “Did Ricco say something?”

“No, he’s been great and wants us to be friends. It’s not awkward at all,” she pulled a face at him and rolled her eyes. “It’s not just him, it’s your parents and David and Frankie and Anna! They all seem to be expecting this great exhibition of art, and all I have is one decent canvass and a few half-assed sketches and paintings. I haven’t had time to prepare. This wasn’t my idea, it was Peri’s and Roz’s, and I was okay with it when I thought it was just the Donati family, but now there are so many people here, and I have nothing to show them!” She began to feel panic about the night ahead.

“Stop!” Matteo said, pulling her into his arms and feeling her take a shaky breath. “Relax and try to think about it for a moment,” he said soothingly, running his hand over the bare skin of her back. “Which painting did Peri see and love before contacting you?”

“The one of the football team,” she answered. Peri had told her how much she loved that painting.

“Now if Peri wanted to borrow that for an art exhibition she was putting together, güvenilir bahis who would she have asked and what would they have said?” he put the question to her, making her think logically.

“Frankie,” she said uncertainly. “He’s here because she asked for the painting?”

“She can be pretty persuasive,” he rolled his eyes. “Frankie was hardly going to miss your first art show once he knew about it and agreed to lend his painting to Peri. It was supposed to be a surprise, but I can see that was a mistake,” he chuckled, holding her close.

“It’s only one extra painting, but it’s a big canvas,” she said softly. “Maybe I should go to the gallery and check on it,” she said quickly.

“Let Peri and Roz do their thing, they have been planning this for days,” he finally released her, feeling her calm slightly and looked into her eyes. “They have both been doing this sort of thing for years. You have to trust that everyone wants you to have a wonderful night and bathe in your successes as an artist. Peri loves the portrait you did and wants to thank you properly with this small show,” he continued to speak to her in a soft, soothing voice. “She wanted it to be a surprise that Frankie let her borrow the painting.”

“She paid me, there was no need for this show,” Cat frowned. “I’m not as comfortable in the spotlight as you all seem to be. I’m just trying to make a living. I think agreeing to this was the mistake, not anything Frankie or Peri has done.” She’d come to this city to talk to Peri about the commission and start a new life away from Melbourne and Ned and Ricco, now she seemed to be caught up in a wonderful dream where she was about to make a living as an artist instead of a waitress with artistic skill.

“You look great in a spotlight. You’re beautiful and talented, and you need to start believing me when I say that. Now you promised you would stay by my side all weekend and we would do what I wanted, no arguments. I’ve been very patient this week while you have been working so hard. Today we have plans. You’ll be at the gallery in plenty of time to see what Roz and Peri have come up with,” Matteo said, taking her hand and beginning to walk again.

“What do you mean ‘what they have come up with’?” she asked. “Frankie only had one painting, he didn’t have any of the sketches or anything for it. He couldn’t have, because there are none!”

“Cat, stop!” Matteo said in a commanding tone. “You need to trust me. Everything is going to go perfectly tonight. You have to let the experts do their job today. I would never let anyone do anything to upset or embarrass you. You have to know that!”

“Your pants are vibrating, and I don’t think it’s because you’re happy to be near me,” she said quietly, feeling like a child who had just been chastised.

“Oh, but I am!” he chuckled. “Take a breath, and remember, you’re supposed to be giving me all your attention today,” he grinned and answered his phone. “Papa, I thought you were meeting with Josh?” Matteo answered his phone with a quizzical expression. “We had plans for this afternoon, but if it’s important…” he said hesitantly. “Yes, I understand,” he said. “Yes, both of us.”

“Change of plans?” Cat asked as he ended the call.

“Change of plans,” he nodded, looking disturbed.


Matteo held Cat’s hand tightly as they walked into the large suite reserved for guests at the Donati complex. He hadn’t ever stayed here himself, but he had visited the penthouse of the building owned by Dante and Josh Donati. This suite was no less large or luxurious, and he was impressed once again by the quality of work the small Donati construction firm was capable of.

“Hey,” Ricco said, coming to his feet and approaching them as a steward let Matteo and Cat into the guest suite. He kissed Cat’s cheek and bumped shoulders with Matteo in their familiar way. “What’s going on?” he asked quietly.

“Not sure, I guess we’ll find out,” Matteo shrugged, sounding unimpressed to be summoned here on today of all days.

“I thought you were going with Frankie and David to a football thing?” Cat frowned, worried by the mood that had come over Matteo since the phone call.

“David went with a friend of Frank’s, and we came here,” Ricco said, still using a quiet voice as if not wanting to disturb the empty-seeming suite.

“Maybe I should go if this is a family thing,” Cat said, feeling uneasy about the situation and the mood of both the men she was standing with.

“Papa wanted you here,” Matteo reassured her, reaching out to pull her against his side, curling his arm around her waist. “Frank came with you?” Matteo asked Ricco.

“Yeah, it was a bit of a rush,” Ricco rubbed at his jaw. He had a feeling that something was not right with the world, and his concern, as always lately, went to Stefano, but he couldn’t help wondering about Roberto as well recently. This time the sinking feeling he had in the pit of his stomach wasn’t abating, but he didn’t want to say anything to ruin his brother’s or Cat’s good mood by voicing those concerns. “Did you have to cancel your plans, or can you still make them if this is over quickly?” Ricco asked Matteo.

“Depends on why we have been summoned, I guess,” Matteo frowned, showing his own concerns matched Ricco’s.

Ben Esra telefonda seni bosaltmami ister misin?
Telefon Numaram: 00237 8000 92 32