“So do you know what this means?”
Eula shook her head.
“You did something only princesses could do!” She clapped her hands. “Yay!”
Caught up in Vivian’s excitement, Eula dropped the ladle back into the bowl and clapped her hands as well. “Yay!”
Eula was much more relaxed afterwards, and dinner with the Valencias proved to be the most delicious and fun affair she had for ages. Following dinner, they went to the private living room, where Eula flawlessly played several nursery tunes.
“Has she been taking lessons?” Vivian asked, even more impressed now.
Luca nodded. “At her insistence, too.”
“She plays wonderfully.”
And then it was time for Eula to wash up and change for bed, where she insisted on Vivian’s company instead of her father’s. Vivian was also the one who tucked her into bed, and although her eyes were already drooping sleepily, Eula said, “I want you to tell me a bedtime story. Please?”
“The pink book please.”
“Umm, okay, give me a moment…” Rising to her feet, she searched for the shelves in Eula’s bedroom for a pink book and found it tucked behind all the others bearing the same logo.
Did that mean LV also had a publishing house?
Going back to Eula’s side, she showed the book to the little girl. “Did I get it right?”
Vivian opened the book, and the first thing that caught her eye was the title page. Had she really read this right? Clearing her throat, she said, “The Story of Eula’s Lost Mother.”
Eula nodded again.
Once upon a time,
In a far away land,
There lived a king and a queen, who had a baby girl.
The girl’s name was Eula.
They were once very happy,
But then one day, lightning struck and thunder roared.
And the queen became scared.
She ran and ran,
Past the forest,
Over the mountain,
And finally she dived into the ocean.
Down, down she went—-
Until one day, she turned into a squid.
Vivian paused. “Maybe this is wrong. Maybe the queen turned into a mermaid.”
Eula shook her head. “Nope. I also asked Papa if the queen can turn into a mermaid, and he told me this is the real story. The queen is now a squid.”
“A squid,” she echoed doubtfully.
“Yes,” Eula said patiently. “A squid.”
Vivian cleared her throat. “Okay, a squid.” She turned to the next page.
Now that the queen was a squid,
She was no longer scared.
In the ocean, she would not be able to hear the storm coming.
There would be no lightning or thunder.
No flash! No boom!
And so she lived happily ever after.
As for the king and the princess,
Their new story begins in another book,
When the king finds a new queen,
And the princess finds a new mother,
And they, too, will live happily ever after.
Vivian closed the book. “The end.”
“Did you like the story, Vivi?” Eula asked.
She nodded. “Yep.” It was extremely odd, but it had been a fun read.
Eula nodded and yawned, saying, “I’m glad.”
Vivian kissed the little girl on the forehead. “Good night, principesa.”
Eula’s eyes glowed. “Night, principesa.” And then her eyes fluttered closed, and after a minute, her breathing evened.
Tiptoeing from the bed, Vivian headed back to the shelves and returned the book. After a moment’s hesitation, she pulled out another volume, a blue book this time, but one that also bore the LV logo.
The Story of Why Papa Has to Go to Work.
She pulled out another book.
The Story of Why Grandma Lives in Italy
Just as she was about to pull a third book out, she heard Luca murmur in amusement, “Having fun?”
Almost jumping in her shock, she turned towards him and found Luca leaning one shoulder against the doorway, arms crossed over his chest, and a smile playing on his beautiful lips.
“She, umm, had me reading her a bedtime story,” she whispered.
Her face heated up, Vivian feeling inexplicably embarrassed at the thought of Luca listening to her while she had read the story she now realized he had personally penned. It had to be him. No one else could be so sweetly devious.
After kissing his daughter goodnight, Luca drew her out of the room and quietly pulled the door shut.
And then they were looking at each other, neither of them saying a word.
Butterflies started fluttering its wings in her stomach, and she couldn’t stop herself from swallowing audibly. She wished he would say something, anything, but Luca only continued to gaze at her with gleaming light blue eyes that seemed to mock and seduce her at the same time.
I know what you want. You know what I want.
Give me what I want, so I can give you what I want.
She wetted her dry lips and was startled to see his nostrils flare. When she saw the heat now glittering in his gaze, she realized in shock that such a simple thing had actually aroused him. She wetted her lips again, and he stilled.
“Are you trying to seduce me, cara?”