Chapter 23: The Birthday

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A gift consists not in what is done or given, but in the intention of the giver or doer.

-Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Tatiana Rostova’s POV

So here we are at the Rostov Hotel, one of the hotels owned by my family around the world. My great-grandfather started the business of hotels when he bought a century old mansion in St. Petersburg in Russia and turned it into a luxury hotel. Now decades later the Rostov International Hotels were well-known hotel chain around the world.

I glanced at Lucca once he helped me to slide out of the car. He was busy looking at the magnificent building in front of us. The same hotel chain that would be his once my revenged was complete.

“I never failed to be impressed with your father’s taste of luxury. The Rostov Hotels were known for their opulence and comfort.” Lucca remarked with his silver eyes gleaming under the lights.

“This is one of the hotels that would be yours once my revenged is finished.” I reminded Lucca thoughtfully.

Something dark and dangerous flashed on his silver eyes.

“Now is not the right time to discuss that, Tatiana.” Lucca said coldly. I frowned slightly. Have I said anything to him that he didn’t like? The way he looked at me it seem distant and every inch of an Italian duke. And right now, he is the powerful Italian duke that everyone feared.

He led me to the entrance of the Rostov Hotel and the concierge slightly frowned at me. As if, he saw a ghost that should have been dead long time ago.

Here we go, I told myself as I took the first step on the marble floor of my family’s hotel.

I walked gracefully in the arms of my husband, a powerful Italian duke. Lucca led me to the grand ballroom but I couldn’t help to noticed that my knees were shaking badly. Suddenly, I realized I couldn’t do it—couldn’t face my mama again and act as if I don’t know her.

It’s too painful to bear the disappointment on her face when I deny that I am Tatiana, her younger daughter.

I was about to pull away from Lucca’s arm but it’s too late. We already reach the entrance of the elegantly dressed ball room of the Rostov Hotel.

The chatter inside the room abruptly stopped and looked at our direction with stunned reaction from the cream of Manhattan society.

A distinctive squeeze on my hand reminded me that I could do this. I should endure their stares like I’m used to it. Even I was shaking badly inside. I hated it when people stared at me.

With an encouraging nod from my protective husband I took the first step towards the waiting uproar on my mama’s birthday.

As we walked to greet my mama on her birthday I couldn’t help but to hear people murmured as they stared in my direction.

It’s Tatiana!

She came back from the dead?

No, she’s not the missing heiress.


Who is she?

Who am I, indeed? I should ask that question to myself. Because I was not raised by mama to be a vengeful woman. All she wants for me is to achieve my dreams and be a woman whom my father will be proud of.

But I didn’t become that woman. I was betrayed by the people I trusted with my life.

Then before I knew it we were at the middle of the ballroom where my mama was talking with her friends and sadness was visible on her midnight blue eyes. Even though she’s smiling her eyes were dull.


My heart constricted with pain. My poor mama was still grieving for my death.

“Happy Birthday, Mrs. Rostova.” Lucca’s commanding voice boomed inside the room.

The semi circle group of people who were talking animatedly to my mother suddenly broke apart and parted like the red sea. Paolo and Sabrina were with them and I could see the displeasure in Sabrina’s eyes as she saw me again for the third time this week.

The fluke of champagne my mama was holding slipped from her hand and smashed through the marble floor. The tiny pieces of broken glass on the floor were mirror to my heart when I saw the tears forming on mama’s sad eyes.

“Tatiana…” she whispered as she placed her hands on her quivering mouth. “Tatiana, my baby.”

I wanted to run to her and hugged her tightly. I will reassure her that I was fine and alive. That I survived the accident that I—

But the firm gripped on my hand stopped me from my foolishness. Lucca is reminding me of what I nearly forgot in seeing my mama. He discreetly nodded on Paolo and Sabrina’s direction. Reminding me that they were watching us.

“Tatiana!” My mama surprised me by hugging me tightly and broke into tears. “Tatiana, my daughter, you are alive.”

With every ounce of self-control I had, I dug my fingers on my palms welcoming the pain of my nails from preventing me in hugging mama. I also fought back the hot tears that wanted to escape from my eyes.

When I was certain that I could control myself. I ignore the pain my heart as I removed the arms of the woman who had loved me like her own daughter from the day Papa brought her home.

Mi dispiace,” I said with a forced smile on my lips. “You must be mistaking, Signora. I’m Mariya Cavelli.”

The painful rejection in her eyes nearly broke my resolved. I’m sorry, Mama. I thought silently.


“She is not Tati, mother.” Sabrina said coldly. “She’s Mariya Cavelli. She is the wife of Don Lucca Cavelli, Duke of Caprielle. She was just resembled to Tati.”

“Is that true?” Mama asked.

.” I nodded, placing a sympathetic smile on my face. I should have known that it was hard to detached your heart from your plan of revenged. One way or the other someone will be hurt and right now I am hurting my mama. Papa will never forgive me for this.

But I wanted to give mama a gift even for a short time to see her other daughter. Even if I will deny her eventually.

I should prepare myself from the disappointment of papa towards me. His girl was behaving badly.

“Forgive me,” Mama had said, tears were still in her eyes. And that sight is killing me because I knew that I was the reason of her pain. “It’s just you bear a resemblance to my younger daughter.”

“Ah, to Tatiana Rostova?” I asked, ignoring the painful thud of my heart. “Yeah, I know that I might be similar to her in our appearance. Paolo and Sabrina mistaken me for her the first time we met. But I assure you that was the last thing we have in common.”

I slide my gazed on them with a slight smile forming on my lips as I remembered that day. The perfect day Sabrina had dreamed but I crashed it by my sudden appearance.

“But the resemblance is uncanny, Mrs. Cavelli.” Mama had said to me with hope still lit on her eyes.

Lucca surprised me by saying. “The similarity was there but if you will look at my wife closely you will notice that she’s very different from your younger daughter, Madam.”

I looked at Lucca with gratitude on my eyes. He never broke his promised that he will take good care of me and support me in this revenge of mine. I am forever grateful that I met him in my life. That when my revenged is finally complete and we have separated and go back to our own lives. I will be always grateful that I have to know a great man like him.

Even the thought of divorcing him would leave a permanent scar on my heart that might never heal forever.

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