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They say there are three things you should do at least once in your life:
Dance like nobody’s watching.
I aimed to do all three.
I went to Italy to find myself.
It was like a story book, our eyes met across a crowded room.
Two years later, our eyes meet across a room again.
But the man I met then is different now.
But if you dance with the devil, you get burnt.
And the fires in Italy are scalding hot.
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I stare up at the sign above the door, and I smile.
When in Rome
That’s me, in Rome, loving myself sick.
The weather is warm, the scenery is breathtaking, and Rome is everything I dreamt it would be.
I’m in week two of a five-week Italian vacation. I’ve been to Venice and I’ve been to Tuscany. I may also be in the middle of a small midlife crisis, but whatever. It’s forced me out of my comfort zone and into this Heaven, so I’ll take it.
I push open the dark, heavy, timber door, and I walk into the bar and restaurant. It’s dusk outside, and the restaurant is large with a huge back garden area. Fairy lights are lighting up the space, and it has a party feel to it with jovial laughter echoing loudly around me. A three-piece band are playing at the front, and the place is a hive of activity. One man is singing, while two others play guitar. I can’t understand what they’re saying but I don’t need to. It sounds so good—so Italian.
I take a seat at a table for two outside in the courtyard.
“Buona sera.” The waiter grins as he approaches.
I smile nervously. “Do you speak English?”
“Ah, yes, Madame. How can I help you?”
I quickly peruse the menu. “May I have a Prosecco, please?”
“Ottimo.” He nods and takes off in the direction of the bar, leaving me to look around in wonder at the gorgeous surroundings.
Everything is exaggerated in Italy. The hand gestures, the laughing, the story telling.
The beauty of the language. I could sit and listen to people speak Italian all day, and I have done so for fourteen days straight now.
It’s been the best trip. I thought I would have been nervous traveling on my own, but I’ve found an inner bravery I didn’t know I had. I’ve eaten out every night by myself, and I haven’t once felt self-conscious or unsafe. The people are all so lovely and friendly that I feel totally at home.
I glance around the crowded bar and see people drinking, laughing, and having the time of their lives. I find myself smiling as I watch them talk with their friends.
The waiter comes back with an entire bottle of Prosecco, and my face falls. Oh jeez,
I meant a glass, not the whole damn bottle. I’m going to have to pace myself.
I watch on as he pours me a glass. “Grazie.” I smile.
He nods as he gestures to the food menu. “I back soon, okay?”
“Yes, okay.” I open my menu and look down at the choices as he runs off to tend to other customers.
Everything is written in Italian. Some choices I can make out, and others I have no idea about. I look at the people at the tables around me to see what they are eating.
There’s pizza, pasta, something in a hot pot. Everything does look delicious, though. I look up to the bar and stare straight into the eyes of a man. I didn’t notice him before. He’s standing with a group of men. He’s huge, towering above the others around him. His black hair has a little length to it, with a curl, and his eyes are dark. Those eyes are unmistakably locked on me, and he doesn’t look away. Instead, he dips his head and gives me a slow, sexy smile.
My stomach flips—his gaze is intense… hungry.
Is he doing that to me, or is his girlfriend behind me?
I sip my drink and casually look at the surrounding tables. I drag my eyes back to my menu and scan back through the choices. He has me flustered from just one look. From my peripheral vision, I feel him still watching me, and I glance back over.
Our eyes meet and he smiles again, prompting me to give him a reaction. I have no idea if he’s smiling at me or not, but I decide to play along with the fantasy that is him.
I give a weak smile, and then in slow motion his lips curl into the sexiest damn smile I’ve ever seen. How can a smile be so fucking sexy?
He’s absolutely drop dead gorgeous—tall, dark, exotic. He’s everything I’m not.
I look back down at my menu.
Abbacchio alla Cacciatora
I frown as I look down at the choices, and I turn the page. A million delicious things on the menu, and I’m about to no doubt order something crap that I’ll hate.
I glance back up to the Italian Stallion and he’s gone. My heart drops.
“Looking for me?” I hear a deep voice say from behind me.
I jump and turn and see him standing behind me. “W-what?” I stammer as I stare up at the god.
His eyes hold mine. “I asked if you were looking for me.”
I stare at him, electricity zaps through the air between us. I’m unable to think because of his close proximity. He’s even more delicious up close, if that’s even possible.