A grin tugged at Romero’s lips and he nodded. “All right, but be patient. It’s been a while since I played.”
Playing Scrabble with Romero was actually a whole lot of fun. It was the first time we really spend time alone together. I looked up from the word I’d just put down, debating if I should ask the question that was burning a hole in my stomach. Romero was busy figuring out his next word. His dark brows were drawn together in an adorable way. I wanted to lean across the board and kiss him. “Do you have a girlfriend?” I blurted when I couldn’t hold it in anymore. And then I wanted to die on the spot. Apparently, I didn’t need my sisters to embarrass me. I was doing just fine on my own.
Romero glanced up. There was surprise and amusement on his face. I could feel a blush traveling up my neck. Way to go, Lily. I’d sounded like a moron. “Is that your way of distracting me from the game so you can win?”
I giggled, glad he wasn’t angry with me for asking such a personal question. He returned his attention to the letters in front of him, and my amusement faded when I realized he hadn’t answered my question. Did that mean he had a girlfriend? I couldn’t ask him again without sounding desperate.
I sank deeper into my chair, annoyed. My eyes darted toward the rooftop terrace where my sisters were.
Aria and Gianna probably thought I wasn’t sure they were up to something. They thought I was oblivious to everything going on around me. Just because I was flirting with Romero, however, didn’t mean I didn’t notice the secretive looks they shared. I didn’t ask them because I knew they wouldn’t tell me anyway, and I’d feel even more like the fifth wheel. They weren’t doing it to be mean but it hurt anyway. Aria looked upset over something Gianna had said. I had to resist the urge to go to them and try my luck.
“It’s your turn,” Romero’s voice made me jump.
I flushed and quickly did a scan of the words on the board, but my concentration was frayed.
“Do you want to stop?” Romero asked after a couple of minutes. He sounded like that was something he wanted. He was probably bored out of his mind.
Pushing my disappointment down, I nodded. “Yeah. I’m going to read in my room a bit.” I rose to my feet, hoping my face didn’t give my emotions away, but I needn’t have worried. Romero gave me a distracted smile and picked up his phone to check his messages. I backed away slowly. He didn’t look up again. I needed to figure out a way to get his attention, and not with stupid games.
Aria had decorated the entire apartment with balloons for my birthday, as if I was a kindergarten kid. I’d thought we might be allowed to head to one of Luca’s clubs but he and even Aria had refused to take me there. The amount of food on the table made it look as if a huge party was planned, but it was only us and Romero’s two younger sisters. Aria had asked him to bring them. I felt like the looser kid without friends who needed her big sister to find friends for her. Maybe I should have stayed in Chicago, then at least I could have spend the day with my friends.
When Romero arrived with his sisters, I put on my brightest smile. “Happy birthday, Liliana,” he said, handing me an envelope. It was a voucher for a bookstore. “Aria said you love to read.”
“Yes, thank you,” I said, but somehow I’d hoped for a different gift from Romero. Something personal, something that showed I was special.
“These are my sisters.” He pointed at the taller girl with thick brown curls. “This is Tamara, she’s fifiteen like you.” I smiled and so did Tamara but she seemed as embarrassed as I felt. “And this is Keira, she’s twelve. I’m sure you’ll get along fine.” It was obvious that I was supposed to spend time with them because I was still too young to hang with Aria, Luca and the others. It annoyed me, even though Tamara and Keira seemed nice enough, but I hadn’t come to New York for a kid party. With another smile, Romero headed for Luca and Matteo, and I led his sisters toward Aria and Gianna, and the buffet.
I tried my best to enjoy the evening and be nice to Romero’s sisters but I wanted something special for my birthday, something I’d been dreaming about for a very long time. When I noticed Romero heading out onto the roof terrace for a call, I snuck out as well. The others were hopefully busy enough not to miss me for a couple of minutes. Romero talked on the phone and didn’t notice me at first. I followed him quietly and watched as he leaned against the banister. His sleeves were rolled up to his elbows, revealing muscled forearms.
When his eyes settled on me, his brows drew together in a frown and he straightened. I moved closer and positioned myself beside him. He hung up and put his phone in his pocket. “Shouldn’t you be inside with your guests?” he asked with a smile, but I could tell that it wasn’t as honest as usual.