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Luca (Sinful Shadows Mafia #1)
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Don’t touch the boss’s daughter.
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“Oh, my God. Alianna. Look at how cute this thing is!”
I heard Giana’s squeal from across the boutique and shook my head. My best friend was relentless when it came to shopping. I shot a sorrowful look to the woman behind the cash register, who was obviously annoyed with Giana’s antics.
“Come here. Come here. Come here. You have to try this one,” she said.
“Giana, what in the world are y–oh. My. God,” I said.
“This is so cute, where did you get it?”
“I’m telling you, the clearance racks are where it’s at. You snub your nose at them, but me? I have to live off them on a nurse’s salary.”
“Which is still insane to me, by the way,” I said.
She shrugged. “That’s the way the cookie crumbles, and I’m okay with it. I love what I do, and that means I get to find numbers like this that slowly turn you to the dark side.”
I scoffed. “There’s no dark side. I just don’t like shopping clearance racks. Not because I’m a price snob, but because I have a tendency to get something home and want to return it. Sometimes, clearance items can’t be returned. That’s all.”
“Or maybe, you just need to come shopping with me more. Because let me tell you, you’ve never returned anything you’ve found while shopping with me.”
I paused. “Actually, that’s true. Huh.”
“See? Now, haven’t you missed me all these years?”
“No, no. That wasn’t a guilt trip. This time, at least.”
“I moved to California. I didn’t just forget you. We just… grew apart. But, I’m back. And I’m not leaving again,” I said.
“You let me have a word with your father about that. I want to make sure I get it in writing,” she said, smiling.
I hugged my best friend, holding her close as I sighed.
“I really did miss you while I was away. Even if we didn’t call or talk much,” I murmured.
“I know, Alianna. I missed you, too,” she said.
“So, show me these clearance pieces you want me to try on.”
“Great. You go pick out a dressing room, and I’ll start tossing things over. Oh, the fashion show is my favorite part of this whole venture!”
She let out another squeal that I really did think would get us thrown out by management. But, all that happened was people in the shop started giggling with us. The girls behind the register clapped to cheer on her happiness.
It felt wonderful to be home again.
I’d missed a lot of Giana’s life after my father uprooted the family to San Diego. I knew it was work related, and that we couldn’t do much about it. But, moving across the country after solidifying friends in elementary school and middle school had been hard. Especially since I attended private schools. It took me a long time to find a way to fit in with the high schoolers on the West Coast. They were different. They looked different. Talked different. Held different things in high regard.
And sometimes, one mention of my last name sent people running in the other direction from me.
Still, I found my place among the crowd. A few girls I latched onto, and soon became busy with. They came over all the time and we’d walk straight from my father’s porch onto the private beach we secured for ourselves there. And for a while, I thought that San Diego was where I’d want to stay. Where I’d want to live. And date. And raise a family.
Until my father announced we were headed back to New York City.
Despite the friends I’d made, I couldn’t pack myself up quickly enough. It showed me just how much I hadn’t bonded with those girls. Or rather, how disposable their friendship was to me in the end. In some respects, it made me feel like shit. And in other respects, it didn’t. New York City had always been my home, and after my father was done with his work on the West Coast, we moved back.
And hanging out with Giana showed me just how much time had passed between us.
“Here! I’ve got these three pieces so far. Don’t judge them by their cover, either. They look terrible on the rack, but once you get your legs in them–.”
“I get it. I get it. I’ll try them on,” I said, giggling.
“Good,” Giana said.
I held up the barely-there dress and thought about how much my father would want to kill me if he saw me in this thing. Still, that made me want to try it on. I slipped out of my clothes and into the bodycon dress, rolling it over my petite features and down the long expanse of my legs. Dresses like this should have stopped just below my knees. But, with my legs being so long, it stopped just beyond the halfway point of my thighs.