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Grace stole one last glance at herself in the mirror. She looked beautiful. The champagne pink dress Madame Duboire had made for her fit like a glove. It was something Grace imagined a princess would wear. The skirt was full, but not overwhelmingly so. The stitching was like gossamer, and the whole thing seemed to shimmer in the light. The pearls strung around her neck and dotting her ears seemed to complete the illusion of being royalty. 

Grace peeked out her cracked door to make sure no one was walking by before she began to twirl around the room like a little girl in her mother’s nice dress.

She heard a giggle behind her.  

“Careful, now, you wouldn’t want to ruin your hair. Gia worked ever so hard on it.”    

There was a twinkle in Nina’s brilliant eyes as she sidled into the room. Grace thought she looked lovely in her bright green ball gown. It seemed to fit her glowing personality.  

“Nina! You look lovely.”                                          

“Not as lovely as you, Grace.” She gently took hold of Grace’s upper arm, leading her out of the bedroom.

“Now come along. We have to leave soon.”               

Grace was surprised at how much time had passed. The sun was setting outside and the street lights were beginning to flicker on.            

Downstairs, Grace could hear quite the commotion. Over the balcony, she could see Gia helping Valentino with his tie, and Russo finishing the clasp on his cuff link. Carefully, she grabbed up the skirts of her dress so she wouldn’t step on it, and began the descent down the stairs. She followed closely behind Nina.      

At the bottom of the staircase, both girls were met by their respective escorts. Vincent held Milo on one side, and whispered sweet nothings into Nina’s hair on the other. Grace smiled sadly at the sweet little family, feeling like an intruder on their moment.    

She heard a throat clear behind her.               

Grace turned in a whirlwind of tulle and lace to face the man standing behind her.    

“Luca,” she breathed.  He grinned.     

“You look stunning,” he said. His eyes were appraising every inch of her, drinking in her appearance with a hint of what almost looked like adoration in his eyes. Grace blushed. 

“Thank you. You are very handsome this evening,” She paused. “Not to say you don’t look handsome every day.”  She felt the blood rushing to her cheeks.             

Luca laughed, enjoying her awkward discomfort. 

“Thank you.” Always the gracious gentleman. 

He cleared his throat.        

“I have something for you.” He fished around in his slack’s pocket for a moment. Grace turned to look behind her, hearing Gia let out a rather loud chortle to something Milo had done.   

When she turned back to Luca, she didn’t see him at first. He had bent down on one knee, glancing up at her with a shiny something pinched between his thumb and forefinger. 

“I realized that I hadn’t gotten you a ring yet, so I thought you might like this one. It was my great grandmother’s, and I know it’s old, and if you’d like something more modern, we can go to the jeweler’s tomorrow-“                                   

“It’s perfect,” she blurted, cutting off Luca’s rambling.   

It was perfect. It was a simple silver band with a circular diamond as the focal point. The stone was flanked by a small oblong diamond on either side, which were each flanked by another miniscule circular stone. The metal was slightly tarnished, taking away a bit of its shine, but Grace thought it added to the charm.

She finally took her eyes off the beautiful ring to see Luca beaming up at her.  

“Well then,” he said. “I guess there is only one more thing to do.”  

Grace cocked her head to the side. What else was there?                                                         

“Grace Hanson, will you do me the honor of becoming my wife?”   

Grace felt her breath leave her body. Of course, it was only natural that when a man presented a woman with a ring, that question would surely follow. Nevertheless, it caught Grace completely off guard.             

All she could bring herself to do was nod as he grabbed her left hand to slide the ring onto her fourth finger. Once it was securely in place, Grace felt its weight. It was heavier than the ring Russo had lent her, but felt more comfortable, almost as if her finger was where it was meant to be.  

The weight reminded her of all that was to come, the wedding, the marriage, Luca… Most of all it reminded her of his promise to make this work. She felt safe with it, like she once again belonged somewhere and wasn’t just a stray kitten looking for a home.                  

The weight of the ring was certainty. Grace liked certainty.   

Luca stood, planting a gentle kiss on Grace’s temple as he wrapped an easy arm around her shoulders. Unconsciously, she leaned into his sturdy frame. It seemed to her that she fit just perfectly against his side. Her head came dangerously close to resting on his chest, something that frightened her a bit.

How had she become so comfortable in a mere day? She hadn’t, she decided. Surely she was just honoring their agreement to try and let Luca court her.               

Nina and Gia came to congratulate her and oogle over her ring while Luca was given pats on the back and proud handshakes by his brothers and father. The air was warm and Grace felt herself becoming flustered. It was all too much.             

“Shall we get going then? We wouldn’t want to keep the Governor waiting, now would we?” she suggested, not really sure to whom.  All she knew was that she needed fresh air to clear her overwhelmed mind.   

It’s nothing, she reminded herself as she felt her stomach twist delightfully when Luca placed a strong hand on her lower back, guiding her out to the waiting car. 

It was a lie, and she knew it. It was not nothing. 

She just wasn’t sure what it was.

Quick Question: LUCA or RUSSO??

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