“Vestito sexy o modesto?” Natalia Dolcini wrinkled her nose in distaste and glared at the two dresses in front of her.
She rarely did modest. What was the point? But this was a stuffy event and most likely mind-numbingly dull if the name of the dinner was anything to go by. After all, nothing screamed tedious like the European Financiers’ Annual Banquet.
Lips pursed, hands on her hips, she tapped her fingers along her generous curves and tried to decide which to wear. Looking over her shoulder at her housekeeper, Carlotta, Natalia silently asked her opinion.
Carlotta pointed to the modest dress.
“” she cursed. “We must remember to speak in English.”
Carlotta snorted, “Why must we speak in a foreign language?”
“I told you, Carlotta,” Natalia said and returned her attention back to the dresses. “I’m making everyone at the shop speak in English. It’s my rule since I have everyone from New York to the moon working with me,” Natalia added with a wild flourish of her hands.
“The one language they can all speak is English.” She paused and added with another laugh. “Even the green headed Martians. So I must make sure mine is good and yours, too!”
Natalia laughed and curled a lock of dark hair around her finger. “And have I told you how amusing it is to see Gina and Violet argue over the Queen’s English versus American English?”
“Funny, I’m sure.” Carlotta shrugged with a scowl that clearly said it wasn’t funny. “Now, if you had been home when you were supposed to be,” she added with a cluck of her tongue. “You would have time to try them both on. But late as always.”
“Blame the red cocktail dress at the office.” Natalia rolled her eyes. “Not me.”
“Or should we blame the red cocktail?” Carlotta asked with a suspiciously raised eyebrow.
Natalia rolled her shoulders and turned from the dresses where they hung on porcelain hooks along the wall. The best decision she’d made in this house was to remove that useless little sitting room and fashion this dressing area. A large, floor length mirror covered one wall and happy little birds flitted about the wallpaper that covered the other walls.
Carlotta continued to frown at her, even as Natalia’s mind wandered from her dress choice. She’d never been so happy to hear the house phone ring as right then. Carlotta was a gem, one who often overstepped her bounds, but a gem nonetheless. She’d been with the Dolcini family for ages and considered herself a mother hen, a snarky overbearing mother hen, in Natalia’s opinion. Despite that, Natalia loved her.
As Carlotta answered the phone, Natalia turned back to her dresses.
“Dolcini residenza.” Carlotta paused. “Of course, of course.” Natalia turned to look at her as she held out the phone. “Signora Marquez.”
Short silk robe swirling around her thighs, she continued to eye her dresses and took the phone from Carlotta. “Sabrina!” she said in genuine pleasure, then frowned. “Is anything wrong?”