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Fateful Italian Passion

A New Breath of Dark Romance

Book 1 of THE VENEZIANI FAMILY SERIES

By Olga GOA

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“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

Chapter 1
Saint Petersburg, Russia

Veronica didn’t expect that she would agree to a trip to Italy so quickly. She was tired of being under the constant scrutiny of her aunt, Henrietta, who cared for her.

But who could take care of her instead of her aunt? No one. Veronica’s parents abandoned her as soon as she let out her first cry after she was born. They had left her in a small basket near the shelter about a mile away from the hospital. When Henrietta found out as a sister of Veronica’s biological mom, she was determined to take Veronica home. If not for Henrietta, baby Veronica wouldn’t have been alive already.

Because of what her parents did to her, Veronica didn’t wait for anything. She realized that some people have no sense of responsibility, even towards a life they had created. Responsibility was not in their blood, and neither did they need it; just like they didn’t need their daughter.

Take caring of Veronica for so long, Henrietta decided that Veronica needed to see the world in a different light. Veronica’s rose-colored glasses were concealing the reality from her as she was a girl who dreamed a lot. So, Henrietta wanted to teach Veronica about real life—to never give up, to be smart when required while facing new experiences and of course, to be fair to herself.

She presented Veronica with a summer trip to a warm country where her distant relatives lived. Henrietta bought an inexpensive tour around Italy, which would let Veronica enjoy the nature of the country. Henrietta had such ability because she saved money, working additionally as a seamstress. Henrietta was a practical woman, and she knew of how to survive in this cruel world. She also wished to teach that her beloved niece.

Comparing with her aunt, Veronica Ledyanova was specializing in fashion design. She was studying it at the university with the money that her aunt saved from painstaking work at the chocolate factory.

At this year Veronica finished her penultimate course with absolute success because in her early childhood, Veronica had always liked to draw various sketches of clothes for all men and women. This occupation gave Veronica happiness and also a distraction from the impenetrable reality. Peers and classmates always snubbed and teased her in school or university because she was an offspring without kith or kin. Whenever she came from the university in tears, her aunt immediately understood what was going on. Constant insults and misunderstandings from Veronica’s so-called friends were happening behind the walls of the prestigious institution. Veronica couldn’t escape it.

However, Henrietta never wanted to limit Veronica from doing whatever she wanted. She was very attached to Veronica, despite the girl’s abrasive character. Henrietta loved her like her own daughter and Veronica certainly understood how much she owed her aunt. That brave and kind fifty-five-year-old woman had been raising Veronica over the many years.

Though Henrietta was not her mother, she was the closest person to her in the entire world. Not only because they knew each other’s habits and characters so well but also because a full understanding had developed between them over the years. They will go any length for each other.


***


As usual, Veronica returned home from the university and heaved a sigh of relief. She had anticipated that soon she would be away from her classmates who constantly taunted her. She would go to Italy, a country unknown to her, in search of something new. But the fear of the unknown future overcame Veronica. She had never traveled, and it roused strange anxiety in her soul. But Veronica was pulled by the desire to see the lives of people of another country, which was different from hers.

Looking out from the window of her bedroom where she always cherished her solace, Veronica didn’t notice when her aunt walked in.

Henrietta was dressed in the chiffon lemon blouse and creamed pants from thick material. Her hair was already ash, shortcut, but her face wasn’t old too much. Her dove-colored eyes smiled slightly, gazing at her only protégée.

“What are you thinking about, my love?” Henrietta asked Veronica, her petite body leaning against the wall.

“I was thinking… What is life in Italy like? What are people there like?” Veronica replied calmly, although she was very nervous inside. How she will go absolutely alone to the foreign country?

“Well, I think everything there is similar to here; maybe life there is just a little different from ours. But you have nothing to be concerned about, sweetheart. I have booked a group tour around Italy, so you won’t be alone. You will travel with the group and enjoy your excursion. But always stay near the guide and be careful not to get lost.” Henrietta waged her finger at Veronica.

“I’m not a little girl, my dear Auntie. I’m twenty-three years old, and I know how trips abroad are organized. I’m not as stupid as you think I am!” Veronica raised the tone of her voice but felt that maybe she shouldn’t have done that. Her aunt wished her only the good things.

“The features of your contentious temper are showing again, Veronica. Could you say it in a politer tone?” Aunt Henrietta knitted her brows, listening to her niece patiently.

“Sorry,” Veronica suddenly broke off. “I didn’t mean to offend you, Auntie. My bad.”

“I know you too well to be offended by such things.” The woman replied with a grin. “However, you have to rein in your temper. What if some young man you meet doesn’t like it?” Henrietta rebuked Veronica’s complicated temper. Sometimes her niece wasn’t able to hold her tongue at all.

“Nonsense! I need no one else except you, Auntie,” Veronica admitted, turning away from the window and coming closer to her aunt to hug her.

Henrietta hugged her back, scanning Veronica’s today image with fascination. Her niece had a gift in picking the right clothes and looking fantastic.

“That’s all fine,” Henrietta smiled and continued, “but you need a family and a husband who will take care of you when I’m gone.”

“You’ll live forever! Mark my words, Aunty. Such people like you always do!” Veronica persuaded her.

“I wish I could believe it, my little girl, but life goes on, and I’m growing old. Who will take care of you when I’m gone? You need a man whom you can rely on in your life. You need someone who will lead you on the way to his heart, holding hands and whispering words of love in your ear. Do you understand me?”

“Of course, I understand you, Auntie, but sometimes it seems like it’s you who has rose-colored glasses on your nose, not me,” Veronica chuckled. “Who would want to marry a girl who doesn’t have any family and doesn’t know her roots? Who?”

“You think too badly of yourself, dear. You have a golden heart and a good soul. What else does a man wish for?The rest, you will learn as you grow up.” Her aunt winked boldly at Veronica.
“Aunt Henrietta!” Veronica flushed exclaiming. “What does that mean?”

“Everyone thinks to the extent of their depravity,” Aunt Henrietta said, looking at Veronica with her chaste eyes, surprised by the modesty of her protégée.

“Such a clever woman you are,” Veronica teased her with a smile, blinking her brown almond shaped eyes.

“Oh yeah, I am!” Henrietta laughed in response. “I’ve always been like this, when I was young and innocent and having met so many men of my life. But when I met your uncle Pavel, everything changed. I realized that only him and nobody else was the one for me. He was a great man in any deeds; he became my supporter and love. But since your uncle passed away too early, my life changed so much. Now I live only for you.”

“I wish your husband were here, with you,” Veronica replied dejectedly. She wondered how lonely her aunt was in life without a companion.

“It wasn’t meant to be. It is destiny, sweetheart,” Henrietta said; her eyes filling with rogue tears. Her husband was everything to Henrietta.

Seeing her aunt upset, Veronica took her hand in hers and uttered, “Aunt Henrietta, you’ll be happy. I believe it. Mark my words!

“Let God hear your prayers!” She thanked Veronica tenderly, touching her cheek. “Anyway, enough of all this sweet talk. Why are you not ready yet? Your flight to Rome is in five hours. Have you forgotten?” Henrietta was a little infuriated at Veronica’s carelessness not being serious about her upcoming trip.

“Oh my gosh! I didn’t notice the time. My apologies, Auntie…” Veronica whispered, acknowledging in her mind that she had always felt peaceful and relaxed in her room. Her room was like a dream world which she had created and lived in. Veronica painted her rooms’ walls in blue, indigo and green colors with white foam and beautiful white roses. Whoever came into her room had a feeling like he dived into the deepest sea—it was great vision for visitors’ eyes. The light wood furniture made Veronica’s room perfect and comfortable for living.

“Veronica, have you packed everything for the trip?” Henrietta asked her with concern, interfere in Veronica’s thoughts.

“There is very little left, Auntie. My wardrobe is not impressive. I have nothing to show off,” Veronica said sadly, throwing out her hands.

“My dear, beauty is not limited to appearance; it also lies in a sharp mind, and unlimited energy. You have all the beautiful qualities a young lady must possess,” Henrietta stated, caressing Veronica’s long hair.

“I’m not sure if I will ever find a husband.”

“Don’t say that. When you graduate in next year and begin working as a designer, you will win many hearts with your talent. Especially, your future husband. I have no doubts about that. You will blow away the world of fashion!”

“You believe in me so much that I won’t be able to step back now! I will fight!” She spiritedly vowed with a sense of gratitude, trusting her aunt in full.

Veronica didn’t want to detain her aunt any longer; she had come for a snack and a short rest.

Henrietta said, “Veronica, I have to warn you. Be very careful in the foreign country. Your naivety can be taken advantage of, especially by men. So, I’m giving you this, just in case.” She took a pepper-spray out of the pocket of her trousers and held it out to Veronica.

“Do you think I will need this?” Veronica asked, surprised.

“Anything can happen. You are going alone, and I won’t be able to protect you there. But fear will not help me. I have decided you should blow away the cobwebs and see a new world. This will do you good, Veronica. Classes at the university have ended, and holidays have begun. Nothing is keeping you here, in St. Petersburg.”

“It is you who is keeping me here.” She gently kissed her aunt on the cheek.

“Sweetie let’s not give ourselves to our emotions. You must go; otherwise, I really won’t let you out from under my skirt. In this case, trousers.”

They burst out laughing, enjoying each other’s company. They were a real warming but small family.

Realizing that they have to be parted for some time, they hugged firmly as if they were saying goodbye forever.

“You know my cell phone number. Call me in case of an emergency. I will always be in touch.” Having given her niece a rewarding motherly embrace, Henrietta moved away from Veronica.

“Thanks, Auntie. I will never be able to repay for all that you have done for me and what you keep doing. I love you very much and I always will.”

“I love you, my dear. Okay, go now. It’s time to get ready!” Henrietta voiced strictly, and Veronica felt that it was indeed time to leave.

Veronica rushed and threw in summer clothes from the wardrobe into her bag. She also put in two of her warm jumpers and a pair of ankle boots in case it was cold, and Italy wouldn’t welcome her with warm weather. She also changed her image to a sporty one, being absolutely ready to go.

Henrietta was looking at the girl she had parented for twenty-three years and thought how quickly the years had passed. It seemed that it was only yesterday when she took the baby from the shelter. Veronica announced with her cries that she would seize every opportunity she gets to live in this world. The baby was so cute and fragile; she had become an integral part of Henrietta’s life and filled it with happiness.

But now Veronica was adult and flying to another country so far away that her aunt couldn’t watch her and protect her. But Henrietta needed to let her be independent.

“I ordered a taxi for you,” Henrietta informed Veronica as the girl combed her unmanageable curls, standing before the oval-shaped mirror. She was really attentive to her dark blond hair-do.

“Why do you spend so much?” she reproached her aunt for her deed.

“Because I want to.” Raising her head proudly, the woman said. “Moreover, I will know that you’ll get safely to the airport. My close friend, a good man, will give you a lift. He is sixty years old and…”

“What I really can’t understand is your connections with people in the taxi business.” Veronica interrupted her instantly.

“They remained my friends after your uncle passed,” Henrietta announced, remembering her late spouse.

Reminding herself that it was time for her niece to hit the road, she added quickly, “I don’t want to feel sad about my past anymore, darling. Be fast! I am so worried about you being late for the flight. There could be traffic. You know we live in a big city.”

“Okay, my dear auntie,” Veronica agreed, gazing at the closest and dearest person she ever had in her life. She barely wanted to part with her.

Suddenly the intercom rang. Henrietta immediately knew; it was the taxi for Veronica.

“Wait!” Henrietta exclaimed, entering into her middle-size room quickly. She returned with a piece of paper, smiling at Veronica. “It is our relatives’ address in Rome. If you happen to have time, find them. I am not very sure, but they must have left for the Galapagos Islands. But if they haven’t, you could meet them. They are very pleasant people. I didn’t inform them that you are flying to Rome, so I am sorry, dear. Everything has turned out to be so spontaneous and unexpected, as you know. Your trip to Europe wasn’t planned.”

“I’ll try to find them.”

“Okay, my darling.” Henrietta stretched the piece of paper to her and Veronica nodded. “Take care of yourself,” Henrietta said in a trembling voice, feeling a lump rising in her throat and tears welling in her eyes.

“For your sake, I’ll be cautious,” Veronica promised, hugging her aunt tightly.

“My golden girl,” Henrietta whispered, and unable to hold it in, she turned back. She gestured to Veronica to pay no attention to her tears.

Veronica looked around her room, understanding that she will be missing this space. Her favorite soft toys and souvenirs from her aunt stood on the table and reminded her that she leaves her heart here. Although, her drawings and sketches that leaned on the walls made her believe that she will back soon. She must finish her university and become whom she wanted to be.

Feeling that she was at the edge of tears, Veronica took her bags quickly and left the apartment, walking down the stairs from the first floor.

Outside, Veronica saw an old black-haired man near the taxi, dressed in a dark charcoal suit. He was standing next to a black Audi, smoking a cigarette; the ashes dropping beside him. When he noticed Veronica, the man straightened up immediately, throwing away the cigarette and stretching out his hand to her. Veronica shook his hand, and the man smiled, opening the door for her and putting the luggage into the car.

“Where are you going, lovely lady? You are Henrietta’s niece, right?” After the old man asked his questions, he turned on the ignition of his Audi. He waited for the girl’s answer.

Veronica smiled slightly at his words. “Correct, sir. Pulkovo Airport, please.”

“Sure, miss,” he replied calmly with a smile. He moved from the block of flats where Veronica lived and merged into the flow of the passing cars. They were driving down the street so fast that Veronica didn’t even realize how they happened to be at the crossroads of the next avenue. The car was already headed towards the airport.

Suddenly a mobile phone rang with a Spanish guitar ringtone. The man picked up the phone immediately.

“Yes... It’s me, Hettie. I have her, and I am driving with caution. How many times will you repeat it? God dammit, your little girl is already twenty-three, and you’re worried about her as if she is a one-year-old child!” he answered sharply.

Veronica giggled. She was not the only one getting tired of the excessive control of her beloved aunt. Even this driver experienced the pressure of her aunt Henrietta.

“Dear...” Veronica could hear his voice more clearly; his tone was very emotional. “I understand, but you have to set her free now. The girl is intimidated by your upbringing.”

After muttering something indistinctly in Spanish to the woman, he put the phone down and nervously drummed his fingers on the wheel of the car.

Veronica smiled. Even a man like this could be driven berserk by her aunt.

“Is it true that she has got to you too?” she asked the taxi driver boldly.

“No doubt!” The man tapped out the words. “Her control is spread not only over you but me as well. ‘Don’t wear this! Wear that! Come here! Don’t go there!’ Are all women like that? Do you know what she told me?”

Veronica suppressed a chuckle. “What?”

“She told me that if I drive crazily and without care on the road, she will not make me dinner this evening!” He broke out. His temper was too uncontrollable, especially when he was talking to Henrietta Ledyanova.

“I see,” Veronica replied with a smile, knowing her aunt’s temper so well. “But don’t get upset. My aunt is always like that when it comes to people who she loves very much.”

“I have noticed it.” His heart softened. He felt that it was unnecessary to be so fulminating. “Excuse me. I had to introduce myself at first. Your aunt can churn my brains.”

“Oh, for sure…” she snorted in response to his complaints.

“My name is Ricardo. Nice to meet you Veronica.”

“Nice to meet you too.” Veronica responded with surprise and clamed.

Is my aunt dating a Spaniard? Veronica asked herself mentally. She noticed that though Ricardo spoke in broken Russian, he had a great way of talking without an accent.

Veronica declared, breaking the silence. “I didn’t expect my aunt to be dating a man from another country. This is really surprising.”

“Don’t be shy, dear Veronica. I’m too old to embarrass you,” Ricardo, the half-Spaniard told her with a playful smile, and Veronica laughed in response. The uncomfortable tension in their conversation was gone completely and they could talk freely.

“So how did you come to Russia?” Veronica asked Ricardo curiously.

“My mother was Russian. My father was a Spaniard. Our family lived both in Spain and in Russia while I was a little boy. When I grew up, I moved to Russia all by myself,” Ricardo uttered ruefully about his past.

“Why do you say they were?” And Veronica realized that she had asked too much. She was always tactful, but this time she couldn’t resist.

But Ricardo continued, not being offended at all, “They were because they died a long time ago; about twenty years ago. My father had to do business far away, and my mother agreed to that. But she couldn’t bear the separation from my dad, and she died three years later of a broken heart. Not long after my mother, my father died. I thought that people never died from longing for their beloved. But they do... if their love is too strong.”

“I’m sorry,” Veronica apologized, having listened to the little confession from Ricardo, “I didn’t mean to reopen old wounds.”

“Never mind,” he said and prolonged the dialogue. “Everything passes.”

After their conversation, they rode in silence until they have arrived Pulkovo Airport. Ricardo unloaded Veronica’s baggage and carried the heavy bags like they weighed less than fluff.

So elderly and yet he is such a cheerful and agile guy! And his body is so sportive!
Veronica thought and imagined how beautiful it would be if her aunt and the Spaniard get married soon. But she didn’t say it out loud.

“Thank you,” Veronica told him gratefully, shaking his tanned, muscular hand and looking in his brown deep eyes.

“It has been my pleasure, darling. I still need to make sure that you’ve gotten on to the flight. Otherwise, your aunt will rip my head off and eat it for breakfast.”

Veronica laughed. “You’re funny. I think that’s why my aunt likes you so much.”

“Has Henrietta said anything about me?” Realizing that he would be able to hear the truth about himself, the Spaniard roused instantly.

“No…Nothing, sir…” Veronica replied in a second, attempting not to laugh.

“Nothing?” Ricardo asked her disappointedly as he dropped his shoulders.

“I think she will tell you something herself later.”

He laughed in response and stopped before speaking. “You two are so similar; I would never think that she is your aunt.” Ricardo suddenly became silent. He had said too much as well, just like Veronica did recently. “Forgive me, dear. I didn’t mean to upset you…” he continued, but Veronica cut him.

“It’s all right because it’s true. I have to live with it and remember that I’ll never have a normal family. I’ll always be alone.” Veronica sniffled on her unshed tears like a little girl.

“That’s not true,” Ricardo convinced her and held her shoulders. “You have an aunt. She’s your family. And maybe, I’ll be your uncle, as a bonus.”

Laughing at his words, Veronica relaxed, and her pain suddenly retreated. The Spaniard had a talent to improve her mood with his jokes. But it was time to fly for Veronica. She and Ricardo both made their way slowly inside the airport.

Veronica wanted to leave already, but Ricardo took her hand and advised, “Never try to be under someone’s thumb thereby neglecting your feelings. Don’t try to pretend that you don’t care if you feel pain. When it comes to this, remember my words. Believe me, Veronica, and listen to yourself. Never change your desires, or you will suffer greatly. My parents, who died from loneliness, can serve you as an example. Sorry for this confession, but I wanted to tell you this because I see that you are a good person and deserve only the best. I must share with you that; I have learned a lot in my life.”

“Thank you, Mr. … ah... Ricardo. Sorry, I don’t know your last name.”

“Maybe it will appear on the wedding invitation of me and Henrietta. Just Ricardo is fine for now.” He teased as he chuckled, showing his white teeth, which was in contrast with his tanned skin.

He was probably just as handsome and caring in his younger days. Aunt Henrietta has found her safety and peace in him. Veronica thought. Now I have nothing to be afraid of, and I can fly with a calm heart, knowing that my aunt is protected by a real man, ready to stand up for her anytime.

“Bye.” She shook Ricardo’s hand again and picked up her bags with both hands.

“Shall I help you?” he asked, noticing that the bags were heavy for her to carry.

“I can handle it myself. Thank you very much for your help and please take care of my aunt,” Veronica told him accidentally and was suddenly embarrassed by her sincerity.

“Okay. You take care of yourself as well.” He patted her on the shoulder. “I would have given you my knife for protection, but you wouldn’t pass through the metal detector.”

“I’ll be fine. Don’t turn into my aunt.”

Ricardo chuckled nervously at Veronica’s joke. He also worried for her. “I wouldn’t be able to. Your aunt is original in her essence. But girl, please be careful in the foreign country. Good luck.”

“Good luck to you too.”

Waving to Ricardo, Veronica went to the check-in counter, preparing her documents for the registration.

Meanwhile, the cell phone rang in Ricardo’s pocket and he cursed. Knowing his woman so well, Ricardo was sure, it was Henrietta. Who else could it be?

“Is Veronica doing well? Have you seen her to the check-in counter? Have you seen her board the plane?” She was talking a mile a minute.

“Yes darling, don’t fret. She has already been given a boarding pass.”

“Thank you, my hot man,” Henrietta sung, coquetting with him.

“It’s not very nice of you to tease me, Hettie, when I’m so far away from you. I can do something about it when I get back though,” Ricardo answered in a passionate tone.

“You are absolutely shameless!” Henrietta demurred him with no regrets in her mind. “Go back to work, Ricardo, and this evening dinner will be waiting for you. You’ll get nothing unless you listen to what I say,” She warned him with a giggle.

“What do you mean by nothing?” The Spaniard asked her, alert as a hawk.

“Guess, Ricardo.” Henrietta played a cunning game with him.

“When I come home, I will punish you!” Ricardo raised his eyebrows, ready for the battle for Henrietta’s heart and soul. He was full of strength to win his woman, despite his age. After all, it was how young a man felt, not how old he looked that mattered.

Henrietta hollered, “Oh, just you wait! I have something for you too, my passionate Spaniard!” She finished, changing the tone of her voice to a more tempting one. She loved his words, his riot of energy, as though he wasn’t sixty, but still in his sweet twenties.

“Passionate lady,” Ricardo whispered into his phone and hung up.

Awakening from her day dream of her Spaniard, Henrietta got back to sewing on the machine again. The dress was becoming more and more elegant and lovely. The woman could work wonders with these things, but she already missed her Veronica.

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About Olga GOA

Olga GOA (Goa is a pen name) was born in Russia, Moscow. She always was too attached to literature in her young years, and her big dream was to share her creation with a lot of people. She likes to read romance and especially dark romance where things are so close to real life and make readers really sympathize to the book's heroes.

Such genre inspired her to write her first dark romance novel FATEFUL ITALIAN PASSION that was published in August 2017. It became her hardest and the most emotional work in her writer's life. But she's happy that she did it, and she is totally satisfied with it. It’s her most favorite labor to whom she dedicated her soul and heart.

Now she works on the continuation of her first novel and also plans to publish her darkest novel CLUB DRUNKEN CHERRY in 2018. Her next book HOT SHORT STORIES will coming out on Amazon in November 2017. She has a lot of projects in the future so you must stay tuned not to miss any new releases on her Amazon’s page.

Her book FIP won NaNoWriMo 2015 and won the 5 place in The Best 20 novels list on writer’s social site - Inkitt 2016.

In free time she likes to listen to music or watching movies, play piano, reading books, and enjoy walking in the forests. Especially the last one inspires her to write about a lot of things. It’s her big inspiration for creativity and originality, and the source to give her the best ideas of what to write. She also enjoys traveling around the world, because any new place makes her to fantasize and create new plots for upcoming books. She is really passionate about her works and plans to create a lot of stories, even in Teen Fiction or maybe another genre like Thriller.

 

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