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Her Filthy Italians
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They call me their ‘beautiful angel’. I just call them ‘my ********’…
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I stare out the window of the 747 as it descends toward Venice airport, and my stomach tightens. This will be my first time in Italy, or Europe even, and I’m so freaking excited I can barely breathe.
“Go for it,” my sister, Camila, said when I’d shown her the internship program on the Guberman Museum website six months ago. She then suggested that I apply for January. Venice in the winter is incredibly romantic, apparently, and there are fewer tourists. “You’ll get to wear one of those divine masks at the Carnival and hook up with a hot Italian,” she’d smirked.
I’d only recently graduated from the University of California with a master’s degree in art history, and needed to gain experience before looking for work in LA. The fact that my longstanding boyfriend, Jake, and I had decided to call it quits—a mutual decision—meant no ties bound me to Long Beach, where I’ve lived from the time when I turned five years old. So, I took my sister’s advice and now, here I am, about to land in Italy.
A sigh escapes my lips. Camila and I are orphans, have been since our parents died in a car accident seven years ago. She’s a stylist, works with ChiMera, arguably the greatest indie rock band in the world. We’re close—we miss each other when we’re apart—and always speak every day via Messenger. She’ll be stoked when I tell her about my life here.
I glance out the window again, and my heartrate speeds up.
The view is amazing.
I take out my phone and snap pictures of the water-immersed city below… the canals, squares and church spires. We fly over a long causeway and I notice a train speeding toward Santa Lucia station. I’ve done my homework and have read up about what will be my home for the next several months.
I literally cannot wait to experience everything.
An hour later, after going through immigration and collecting my luggage, I follow the signs to the vaporetto. My guidebook recommended arriving by boat the first time I set foot in Venice itself, so I wheel my suitcase along the covered walkway leading to the Lagoon.
Shimmering pearl-gray water spreads out before me in the dusky light.
Water churned by the wake of a departing water bus.
The matrix tells me that the next boat stopping at Zattere, near to where I’m renting a small apartment, won’t be for another half hour.
I tie the belt of my coat tight around my body, suddenly chilled by the damp air. It’s already late afternoon, and, at this time of the year, night will fall within minutes.
The rumble of a speedboat engine drowns out the chatter of a group of Chinese tourists who’ve lined up behind me.
A man brushes past.
Turns and stares.
My eyes pop.
I take a step back.
The dude is hot.
Thick, wavy brown hair long on top and trimmed short at the back and sides. Black stubble covering a strong jaw. He’s wearing a fitted pea coat, expensive-looking, and his broad shoulders taper to a slim waist. A smile spreads across his handsome face. “Looks like you’ve got a wait on your hands for the next vaporetto. I have my own boat. Can I offer you a ride?”
I straighten my spine and look him up and down. Everything about him screams wealth… but he could still be an axe murderer. I chew on my lip. “I don’t know you…”
“My apologies,” he says in a deep, melodic voice.
I’m a sucker for a sexy foreign accent, except this guy’s English sounds more British than Italian. Maybe he isn’t a local?
“Let me introduce myself.” He holds out his hand and I extend mine. “Marcantonio Lorrer. Just call me Marco.”
His touch crackles like electricity through me. Oh God, my nipples have puckered and not from the cold. My breath catches in my throat. “Serafina Martinez. Just call me Sefi.” I withdraw my hand.
He quirks a dark brow. “Are you as angelic as your name?”
“What kind of a question is that?” I huff, shifting my weight from one foot to the other.
He laughs. “Sorry. I couldn’t resist the pun.”
A shiver passes through me. Trepidation or attraction? You only live once, I tell myself. A life lived in fear is a life half-lived, I add another quote for reassurance. I’ve been travelling for hours and I’m tired. It would be nice to check into my apartment sooner rather than later. I decide to give Marco the benefit of the doubt. “I’m heading for Zattere,” I tell him, “if that’s not out of your way.”
“Not out of my way at all.” His smile reveals perfect white teeth. “Andiamo. Let’s go.”
“Grazie.” I meet his gaze. His eyes are gray like the waters of the Lagoon. “Thanks, but you don’t need to translate for me. I studied Italian at college, as well as French, and I grew up speaking Spanish. My knowledge of languages and my master’s in art history are what got me a three-month internship at the Guberman.”