Of Blood and Bone (Page 25)

Of Blood and Bone (The Minaldi Legacy #1)(25)
Author: Courtney Cole

Luca Minaldi is thirty-two years old.  His birthday is October 15.  He has two brothers, Christoph and Damien.  He has never been romantically linked to anyone in particular, although he has been photographed with various dates at social functions, and never with the same woman twice.  He attended Cambridge and graduated Magna cum Laude with a degree in business, then continued on to earn an MBA.

He is currently the Senior Vice President of Operations at Minaldi Shipping.  His younger brother Christoph is the Senior VP of Marketing and his other brother, Damien, is the President and CEO.  His brothers moved away to other Minaldi Shipping global locations years ago, while Luca stayed here because Valetta is where their main operations (shipyards and warehouses) are located.  Damien is located at their corporate headquarters in London and Christoph works in their Abu Dhabi offices.

These things are the cut and dried facts that are easily accessible on the web. 

I dig a little deeper and read through a handful of gossipy social Maltese websites.  It seems that Luca has been the subject of fascination for years.  He is considered mysterious, handsome and the most eligible bachelor of Malta, a title that doesn’t seem to affect him at all.  He is unfazed by the attention and ventures into town as little as possible.  He is gossiped about frequently, with speculations on whether he stashes mistresses around the world unbeknownst to the Maltese public or whether he is homosexual.

I can sense the latter is not the case.  The dark, fiery stares that he gives me can attest to that.  Sexual energy churns between us, something that warms my belly just thinking about.

Luca is certainly a mystery. I’ve known that from the beginning, and he only grows more fascinating as I learn more about him.

I stare at his picture, which stares back blankly from the computer screen.  This is the only time I’ve been able to stare at him without feeling that intense energy that he brings when he is with me in person.  Even now, his gaze is intense, even though I am safe through a computer screen.


I am startled at that word and I ponder it for a moment.  Why would that thought occur to me?  Do I subconsciously feel that I‘m not safe around Luca?  

As a psychiatrist, I am a firm believer that we should listen to our subconscious, to our instincts.  It is interesting that I should feel, even for a second, that I am unsafe around Luca.  I think about it for a few more moments, turning it over and over in my head.  I finally decide that I have simply been swayed by the fact that both Melina and Luca himself told me that I should feel that way. 

And Melina is unbalanced and Luca is… tortured.   That is the best way I can sum him up in one word.  Something about Luca—something in his past probably, is torturing him.  I can see it in his eyes, I can sense it in his presence.  And the woman in me, the maternal side that wants to fix little children, wants to fix whatever it is that is hurting him.

The depth of my emotion concerning this is startling.  I have very strong feelings about it.  I want to help him and I don’t even know why.  I barely know him.  And certainly, I can’t help him until I know what it is that troubles him.  So I decide to make it my mission to find out, a feat that will not be easy since it is widely known that Luca Minaldi is a secretive mystery.  I smile to myself.  Fortunately, I am very good at what I do.

I solve emotional puzzles.

I pull out my research and work for a while, before I realize that I haven’t eaten lunch.  I glance at my watch and find that it is 3:00.  Well past lunchtime.  I put my work away and then pull my hair into a ponytail before I make my way to Marianne’s.  She is happy to see me and we chat for at least an hour and a half while I eat lunch.  She laughs and talks about Adrian, inquires about Luca and is surprised when I tell her that I’ve seen him again.  I can’t divulge the capacity of our meeting, so instead I downplay it and make it sound as though we just bumped into each other.

Technically, it isn’t a lie.  When Luca came to my house to ask me to visit with his mother, we did bump into each other.

“Well, bella,” Marianne laughs.  “I won’t worry about you being alone quite so much.  It appears that you’ve got that under control.”  She lifts her wine glass and clinks it with mine.

I feel slightly warm and flushed, a by-product of the wine.  I decide that I need some fresh air or all I’ll want to do is curl up into a ball and take a cozy nap for the remainder of the day. So I wish Marianne a good day, promise that I’ll be back tomorrow and make my way back out to the beach.

I take my shoes off and decide to walk for a little bit before I get back on my scooter and ride home.  As I sink my toes into the soft sand, the breeze is cool and crisp on my face and it does wonders to perk me back up. I inhale the salt, the brine in the air and I know that I love it here.  I may never want to return to the States.

I love this time of day, too, just when the late afternoon begins the slow turn into dusk.   I have to laugh at myself.  I’m feeling so content right now, with my belly full of pasta and wine, that pretty much anything would make me happy.  There is still enough light that I feel safe out here since I am on my way home.  And also, I promised Marianne that I would call when I reached my cottage safely. If I don’t call soon, she will send out search parties.  Of that, I am certain.

I smile and hum a nameless, tuneless song as I walk.  My feet sink into the foam lip of the sea as it slides to and fro against the beach.  Life is good right now.

I walk a good mile and a half probably before I decide that I’d better turn around.  I glance regretfully ahead of me, at the tree-lined coast, before I turn.  I realize that I’m regretful only because that is the direction that Luca always goes into, the direction that houses Chessarae.  I had been subconsciously walking toward it, toward him, hoping to see him.

This is getting ridiculous.

I turn and start my walk back to my scooter.

After a half mile or so, something in the water ahead catches my eye.  Something silvery white in the late afternoon sun.  I stare at it as I walk closer, and then as I approach it, a heavy feeling forms in my chest.

Whatever it is looks fleshy.

Oh my god.

I can’t help the ominous feeling of panic that rises in me and smothers the air trying to rise from my lungs.  Visions from long ago flit through my head, of another time and place when I found something floating in the water.  Someone.