Cara snapped some pictures in quick succession. She breathed out a sigh of contentment. In another year, she would graduate with her bachelor’s degree in photojournalism. Her portfolio was already full, and she was freelancing. Because of her work at her grandfather’s studio and the photographs she had taken over the years, especially the ones she’d taken when she’d gone to Africa with her parents, she already had two regular clients who paid her for photos. One was a popular magazine and the other was a newspaper.
After she got her degree, she knew that she would be able to increase her client base to a comfortable level. She didn’t want to be tied down to one place. She wanted to travel.
She’d been all over Italy taking photographs of the people and the country while she was here attending university. She intended to return to America after she graduated and then travel across it taking photos of whatever or whoever inspired her. When she finished going through the United States, she planned to visit South America and Canada. After that she’d choose another continent or country.
Cara said, “Grazie,” as she continued walking past them. She had drawn a lot of masculine attention since she’d been in Italy, but she wasn’t there for romance. She was determined to concentrate on getting her degree without any distractions.
The next morning, she went to her first class and quickly took a seat. She had stopped for a cappuchino at the last minute, and so now she was rushing to be on time. She put her things away and then looked up.
From his expression she could tell that his thoughts about her were not exactly professional. He was older than she was although maybe not quite as old as her father. He was extremely attractive. She broke his gaze and opened her textbook.
Cara loved listening to him speak. Cara could see from the behavior of some of the other young women in the class that they too thought that he was hot. She could also tell that he was very aware of their attraction to him. However, after that brief interchange of looks with Cara, he had conducted the class in a professional manner.
“How about having some coffee with me?”
Cara left the classroom. She was still holding herself to the decision she’d made before starting university that she would not allow anything or anyone to distract her.
On Saturday, Cara was riding her bicycle when she came upon Professor Martinelli’s car stopped on the side of the road, and he was trying to start it up. Noah had shown her, Sharlee, and her mom some basic things to check under the hood if they were ever stranded in their cars. He’d also shown them how to change their own flat tires. He said it would be safer for them than relying on someone stopping to help them or waiting for a car service to come. Cara stopped to see if she could help.
She saw the surprise on his face, but he did as she suggested. Cara looked under the hood and saw that a wire to his distributor was disconnected. She reattached it and then told him to try to start the car. It started up right away. It was such an easy fix that Cara had a small suspicion that he had disconnected it intentionally. He came over to her.
He smiled at her. “Well, just a little bit too. I’ll confess that I saw you coming and disconnected it myself. I didn’t expect you to repair it though. I thought that if you stopped, it would give me an opportunity to talk with you while I reattached the wire. Since you repaired it for me, you must give me the opportunity to repay you. I just picked up some groceries, and I was going to prepare dinner. Please join me and let me cook for you. I won’t accept no for an answer!”
Cara really enjoyed the meal. He was an excellent cook and a great conversationalist. They had wine and prosciutto, minestrone soup, green beans braised with tomatoes and Basil, Bistecca Con Salsa delle Erbe (steak with an herb sauce), and for desert he had bought Tiramisu from his favorite local bakery.
“Who taught you to cook so well?”
He looked Cara in the eye. “A good woman deserves to be pampered.”
The intent look in his eyes made Cara glance away. He was different from the guys she’d been out with in the past. Instinctively, she recognized that he was a man who knew what would please a woman. At the time, she didn’t completely realize that that meant that he had had a lot of experience and years to perfect his technique with women. That had been the beginning.
The rules against professors having romantic relationships with their students were not as stringent in Italy as they were in the U.S., and so Donatello did not try to hide his relationship with Cara. The first few months that they were dating, he was a perfect gentleman. He held doors open for her. He’d bring her flowers and small gifts. He’d plan special outings for them.
They shared their first kiss that night. It was Cara’s first kiss as an adult, and it was definitely different from the fumbling kisses she’d received from teenage boys. Donatello knew what he was doing. He didn’t pressure Cara to sleep with him, although they did have a discussion about it. He’d surprised her when he brought it up during another date. They had been walking around the village market.
“No, I’ve never slept with anyone. I haven’t slept with anyone because of a personal choice that I made years ago to wait until after I am married. It wasn’t an easy decision. I’ve spoken with family members who I respect about their choices, and I know that for me it is best to wait. If you can’t respect my decision, then we should end our relationship now.”
He took her wrist and gently used his finger to find her pulse. Then he raised her hand and put his lips against it. She gently pulled her wrist back, and he released it. Cara could feel her pulse racing as he looked into her eyes.
Cara felt extremely uneasy, but she ignored the uneasiness and decided to continue seeing Donatello. He made her feel special, desirable and extremely feminine. She was enjoying their relationship and wanted to see where it led.
They had been dating for more than six months now, but Cara still hadn’t told her family about Donatello. She knew that her parents wouldn’t approve of the relationship. One objection would be the fact that he was her professor, and another would be because of the big age difference. Besides, she felt that her romantic life was her private business, and Donatello agreed with her. She was an adult now and capable of making her decisions without involving her parents.
Donatello and Cara were supposed to go out for dinner that night, and Cara had forgotten to ask Donatello if she should dress casually or dress up for the date. She turned around and went back into the classroom. Donatello and one of the female assistant professors were in the room alone and standing very closely together.
Cara frowned and bit her lip.
He moved closer to her.
“You need to decide if you’re going to be a self-confident woman or a diffident girl. A woman would not need constant reassurance that she can hold a man. She would know that she is enough and have no doubts, no insecurities. Which one are you, Cara?”
Cara didn’t know what to say to that.
“Did you come back to speak with me?”
“I think it’s time that we went shopping. I intended to discuss your wardrobe, and this is as good a time as any. You have a natural elegance, and I think that it is time to bring that out in your day to day style. You must admit that I have excellent taste.”
Again Cara felt deep uneasiness, but she didn’t really understand why. He did have excellent taste. Cara had intended to go shopping for some new things, but she’d just never taken the time to do it. Her style while attending university was based more on comfort than being fashionable. This whole situation felt off, but she still squashed her discomfort. So they went shopping.
Donatello had inherited money and his home from his grandmother’s side of the family. He always insisted on paying for everything. He had a lovely villa and a comfortable income that he supplemented by teaching. He had many years of experience in the photography field and a masters degree.
Then they went to a salon where he told the stylist the type of haircut that he wanted her to give Cara. Cara protested, but he told her that with her facial features any hairstyle would look great on her. After that Cara agreed. He always said just the right thing to make Cara agree to what he wanted. When his cellphone rang, Donatello stepped away to take the call. The hairstylist took that opportunity to speak with Cara.
“What do you mean?”
“The young woman that Donatello has been dating. We are a small village and word spreads quickly.”
He paid the stylist and gave her a large tip. Then he and Cara left the salon.
It made Cara remember the warning that the salon stylist had given her earlier today. Cara had shrugged it off because she knew that Donatello had a past. His experience and maturity were part of what attracted her to him. Cara again thought to herself that this was her life, and no one else had to approve of her decisions. She would continue dating Donatello, and she would be the one to decide to end it if necessary.
They left the dorm and Donatello drove them to the restaurant. When they were led to their table, Cara was surprised to see that there were others already seated there. She’d thought that they were dining alone.
Donatello had questioned Cara about her family and friends and agreed that there was no rush in meeting them. However, when Cara had questioned him about his friends and family, he hadn’t disclosed very much information.
He’d told her that his parents lived in Valtiberina, but his maternal grandmother had been from here in Monte Vista. It was her old family home that he had inherited. Beyond that he had always changed the subject, and Cara had quit asking. So now she was pleased that he wanted her to meet his friends.
“This, dear friends, is my lovely Cara.”
She was extremely attractive and older than both Cara and Donatello. Cara could see that she was not pleased to see her. The reason for her response soon became clear to Cara as the evening progressed. Claudia was in love with Donatello.
Cara watched Donatello’s interactions with Claudia, but he showed no more interest in Claudia than he did in any of the other women at the table. However, he was extremely attentive to Cara, putting his hand over hers as hers sat on the table. Ensuring that she wasn’t too chilly in the air conditioned room and other little things. Clearly showing the others that he and she were a couple.
A few more months passed, and they had been dating for almost a year. It was again time for spring break. Cara was at Donatello’s home with him in the garden. She’d been studying, and he had been reading when her phone rang. Her cousin, Kaylee, was calling to make sure that Cara was still going to meet her, Niki and Fae in Cancun. Cara had only joined them during their trips once. The other times that they had made plans, Cara had cancelled.
“I wish that you had told me sooner. Now I’ll have to cancel my plans.”
“Yes, I was going to surprise you with a romantic trip to Venice. You said that you had not yet been there, and it is a beautiful place to take pictures. I thought it would be a great opportunity for us to spend some quality time together because we will both be on break.”
He knew what she was asking. “Two hotel rooms, Cara. One for you and one for me.”
Cara hesitated. She hated to keep breaking her promises to her family and friends, but she had her own life here now that had to come first. However, she did know that soon she would have to tell them about Donatello. Her parents had come for a visit since she and Donatello had been dating, but she still had not told them about their relationship. Donatello saw her hesitation.
“Oh, what happened?”
“We were here in this house, and there was a small child with us. He was about three or four years old. He had your brown eyes and my smile. You were heavily pregnant with our second child.”
“Do you believe in dreams?”
He smiled. “Not necessarily, but that dream felt so real and right that it made me come to a very important decision.”
“We’ve never discussed children. Do you want children?”
He seemed to brush her words aside.
Cara had never heard herself described in that way. He had used the word loved. Was he saying that he loved her? Did she love him? Sometimes he made her so confused!
“So shall I cancel my plans or will you cancel yours?”
Cara knew that this decision was a pivotal one for the course of her life. She knew that if she went to Cancun it would mean the end of her relationship with Donatello. He had all but told her that he was going to propose during the trip. He was a very proud man, and he would see it as a rejection if she went with her friends rather than going to Venice with him.
She wasn’t ready to end it. He was exciting and made her feel extremely special. She quickly made her decision. She was going with him to Venice, and if he proposed, her answer would be yes. She called Kaylee back.
I’ve started the pictures for the next chapter too. Cara’s storyline will cover the next three chapters.
Thanks for your patience and for the condolences when I lost my father last month.
Donatello was made by Chobits.
Thank you, Queen, for proofreading and helping me with this chapter. ❤
Thanks to all of the custom content makers for sharing your creations with us. Playing the game and working on stories would not be as enjoyable without you all.