Amalfi Coast (That Wedding Girl Book 2) (4 page)

BOOK: Amalfi Coast (That Wedding Girl Book 2)
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CHAPTER FOUR

 

I’m short of breath, god I wish I was more fit.

“Lacey. Ciao!” His gaze is steadfast, full of confidence.

What the hell is he doing here looking all dreamy and dishevelled-in-a-sexy-way in his relaxed roll up top, jeans and loafers? And why am I makeup free, squinting back at him, soaked in sweat? 

“Matteo!” I say way too enthusiastically, taking a deep breath. His eyes are burning with humour as he hands me the yoga mat and I take it with clammy hands. I can see he’s holding a large sketch book, and a pencil is lodged behind his left ear.

“What are you up to today?” I point at the notebook.

“I am drawing, the…the
il panorama
. How do you say, scenery?” He gestures towards the marble busts standing on the edge of the black railings, which overlooks an endless blue sky. It really looks out into the never ending sky. He’s artistic too? Wow…

“So, you’re an artist as well?”

A faint smile appears on his lips and he casts his eyes to the ground, embarrassed by my remark.

“No, just
passione
…hobby. I like to look and draw things that are
bellissimo
…beautiful,” he murmurs as he keeps his gaze on me, those emerald eyes twinkling in the sun. 

“That’s so cool!” I say, and I immediately cringe at how immature I sound.
Is that all I’ve got?

“So you…like to run?” He makes a running gesture with his hands. 

I nod. “Oh yes, it is very hot today!” I fan myself theatrically.

Matteo smiles and points towards the garden, with a nice covering of shade. “Come sit with me.”

He barely knows me, and he’s so welcoming and friendly. I suppose I could use the cool down and he seems like a nice guy, I would be a terrible tourist if I didn’t become acquainted with a local.

I follow him compliantly, and he ushers me back to the spot he has reserved, his brown satchel sitting by the stump. It’s good timing that I bumped into him now, because I can talk to him about the run sheet, as per Amelia’s request. I sit down cross-legged while he sits up against the tree, looking unintentionally suave with one leg raised up. With the terrace just in the near distance, I can see why he chose to sit here. It’s inspiring, definitely worthy of a sketch.

“So it’s a good thing I bumped into you. I was going to contact you anyway,” I start off, my voice confident and assertive. Even if I have to be sweaty, panting and makeup free right now.

He frowns, leaning in closer to me until his face is just inches from mine. “You were going to contact me? Why is that?”

“I was going to call you to talk to you about the wedding,” I say trying to smooth back my hair, which I’m sure is sticking out in all directions.

He smiles, studying my face a bit longer before pulling away and putting his notebook down on the grass to listen to me.

“What about it?” he murmurs, looking amused. He really smiles with his eyes, there’s so much light and joy in them.

“Well, with the day of the wedding, I wanted to make sure you know where to shoot the couple. The locations, the times you need to be there.”

He nods in complete understanding. “
Si
, I have photographed weddings thousands of times. Just send me your plan and I will follow it.”

That was rather easy. “Great! So then can I—”

“Would you like to look at my
il sorteggio
, drawings?” he quickly changes topic with his Only-I-Know-This-Secret smile, and he looks a heck of a lot more excited than when we were discussing the wedding. I’m not an art connoisseur, but I can appreciate it as much as the next person.

“Yeah, that would be great,” I lean in, taking note of his natural body odour which is a mix of soap and sand. It’s refreshing to be in the presence of a man who isn’t bathed in cologne.

Without further ado, he takes his sketch book and flips open the cover to reveal a sketch of a tree.  The composition of the sketch is curious. It’s only in charcoal pencil but I can already imagine the colours he’s trying to convey. The stroke lines are bold, smudged, messy, almost to the point of garish. I’ve never seen a tree painted like this, it’s really unique.

“They’re just practice, but I like to draw simple objects. There is nothing more beautiful than Mother Nature don’t you think?”

“No, there isn’t. It’s beautiful.” I say after observing it for a moment, “You’re very talented.”

He smiles appraisingly at me, clearly flattered. “Really, you think so?”

“Yes, I do.” I reach for the bottom right side of the page to turn it but he pulls the book away. Why doesn’t he want me to look at it?

“I…please no look at that,” he sounds annoyed all of a sudden. “I have tried portraits, but I need more practice…”

“Oh, I’m sorry.
Scusi
,” I fumble. “I’m sure they are fantastic, too.”

He smiles at me warmly. “So how long are you here for?” His voice is curt.

“Just until after the wedding, so only another four days.” I give him four fingers on my hand. “But I’ve been so busy with this wedding, I haven’t really left the hotel!”

I laugh softly and Matteo rubs his fingers on his lips, studying my face like a work of art. “You are in Italy,
Signorina
Lacey, the most beautiful country on Earth, and you have not left your hotel. Why?”

I falter from my calm demeanour, plucking at the grass.

“Well, I am on an assignment…” Not to mention I’m on a bloody cliff top, which I’m trying to forget as much as possible.

“I would love to show you what the Amalfi Coast has to offer; you are missing out on so much.”

Looking up at him, I’m surprised at his forwardness. Why is he being so friendly? He barely knows me.

“Thanks for the offer, I appreciate it.” I force a smile.

I think it’s my cue to leave, I’ve gotten what I needed to out of him. Patting down my thighs, I stand up and smile at him, ready to leave.

“I am going to go now.” I point to my hotel, standing up. “Can I email you the run sheet for the wedding?”

He nods his head in understanding. “
Si, fotografare. Non ti preoccupare!
No…worry.
Si…
,” he puts his hand on his chest as a way to show his understanding. “I will listen to you, not to worry.”

Gosh he is so damn nice and easy going! “Okay, in that case I email it to you.”

“Yes
,
email.”


Grazie
, thank you.” I wave politely and start turning my back to him.


Posso disegnare voi
?” He calls out.

I turn around to see him looking right at me.
Note to self, get an English/Italian dictionary stat. 
“Yes? I mean
Si?
” I really should practice my Italian.

He grins mischievously at me, holding his notebook up. Matteo points at me, and then does a sketching gesture. “My portraits, I need more practice. I would like to draw you?”

I feel my face warm. He wants to draw me? Why in the heck would he want to do that?  “Me?” I point to myself, confused at his request. 

“Yes, you.”

Why?
Let’s brush aside the fact that I am sweating, beady eyes and gross hair at the moment. I have never thought of myself as particularly photogenic, often joking that I’m much better looking in real life. And here is a man who wants to
paint
me. I laugh nervously, at the insanity that is his request. It’s so crazy, so whimsical. So unlike anything that has been requested of me before.

“Matteo…I…” Surely he is not serious, right?


Per favore
, please?” He looks at me eagerly, and then he puts his pencil in his mouth and bites on it. Holy crap, did he just do that? Wow…To be honest, there’s no reason for me to say no. I can spare a few hours, enjoying the beautiful scenery and perhaps hear some cool stories from him. I suppose it would be a bit a fun, and a bit of fun never hurt anyone right?

I nod, non-committal. He’ll probably change his mind later.

“Yes, okay.”

He gives me an appraising smile, “How about tomorrow night?”

“Sorry, I have plans.” By that, I have tons of work to finish up, plus I’m having dinner with Gabe.

“What about the day after?”

“Maybe.”


Perfecto
. I look forward to spending an evening with you,” he says, rather suggestively.

I turn on my heels, giving him a gentle wave and walk away, desperate to cool down. Did I just seriously agree to all this? Where did this all come from? And where is that bottle of water? Screw drinking it, I need to pour it over myself.

CHAPTER FIVE

 

“What’s the word on the delivery truck? Are they able to come an hour earlier?” I ask Gabe, my eyes flicking through the checklist on my clipboard.

Gabe glances down at his phone, checking his email. “Yep, they can do that, but they will charge us.”

“Fine. But they 
definitely
 know where the bakery is, right?” I frown, failing to sound calm.

“Yes, the guy was saying how his mum buys from there all the time. He knows where to go.”

“But they know how to get here, right? To the hotel.”

Gabe stares at me. “Hun, I love it when you treat me like I’m on death row and all, but it’s under control.”

I pop the last of my vanilla infused chocolate in my mouth, instantly feeling better.

“Sorry, it’s not you. I don’t want to screw this up. I can’t.” I’d rather ask the annoying questions now, rather than have it all blow up in my face on the day. I’m being pedantic, but I have to be.

The wedding is still another three days away but I’m treating it like it’s happening in two. Some of the guests will be arriving today which means I need to start finalising details, pronto. Gabe and I are sitting on my bed, going through some new developments that have occurred.

The four tier vanilla and lemon iced cake has been ordered but at Amelia’s insistence, it has been commission by a tiny bakery in Naples. Not only is it an hour and a half drive, they won’t do delivery so I’ve had to hire a third party delivery service. After interviewing the top courier services, I finally hired one, but there’s always that nagging voice at the back of my head that something might go wrong.

Gabe gives me a reassuring glance. “Do you think Amelia speaks any Italian herself? She could have hired anyone she wanted, a local wedding planner even but she wanted you to plan her special day. You’ve got your run sheets, your back up of the back-ups. Even your unorthodox methods manage to get you through the line, so just do what you always do.”

“Do you think they will work here?” Back home, I’m in my comfort zone. Here, I can barely have a conversation with anybody without having to say 
si
 and 
grazie
a dozen times. Either I seem really polite, or a smiling psychopath.

“Sweetie, I think your bossiness knows no boundaries,” he teases.

“Neither does your sassiness. But you did make a mistake,” I tap the clipboard with my finger, feigning annoyance.

“What? Where…” He looks at his laptop quickly.

“You said she hired me. Actually, she hired
us
.” I smirk at him.

Even though this has been more of a holiday for him, he’s still been helping me out behind the scenes. Not only did he confirm the whole shenanigan with Amelia, he’s been so good with helping with any communication issues we’ve encountered. From speaking to the florists, delivery people, and decorators, Gabe ensured that an understanding was agreed to. He saved me from tearing my hair out on several occasions, especially the time when I couldn’t get the decorators to understand that I wanted long thin ribbons, not sashes put on the chairs.    

He scoffs. “Geez, you scared me for a moment! Nuh-uh. Other than make a few phone calls, I’ve been working on my tan and having way too many lemon sorbets. What about you? Besides locking yourself in here like a caged animal, are you having a holiday?” 

“We’re here to work.”

“It’s a working holiday.”

“There’s no such thing. You either work or you are on holiday,” I insist.

He sighs loudly. “Well in that case are you enjoying yourself, are you able to relax and unwind?”

Kind of. To be honest I’ve been busy with getting up to scratch that I haven’t really thought of relaxing. Besides, when I’m working on a wedding, I can’t relax until it is completed perfectly. Even if it is in one of the most gorgeous hotels in the world, in one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

Work aside, I have several other reasons for locking myself in. My fear of heights has gotten the better of me. Instead of enjoying my beautiful surroundings, taking a day trip up to Positano and Vico Equense and exploring sights like the Gardens of Villa Cimbrone and Mount Vesuvius, I’ve been staying near the hotel and exploring the local shops. The rest of the time, I’m at the downstairs café on my laptop checking emails, sending emails, replying to emails. 

 “Yes, I am,” I lie. Between my own mounting pressure to perform the perfect day, my increasing nerves at the fact that I’m sitting on this steep mountaintop, Tristan being setup with a pretty blonde yoga teacher and going bar-hopping with other women, and a hot Italian artist wanting to draw me, I have a lot to juggle in my mind. Having quiet and private time to myself isn’t so bad at all.

 “Uh huh, yeah I’ll bet you’re having a blast staying in this hotel room glued to your laptop. Are you sure there isn’t 
anything
 you need me to do for you?”

“No, you’ve done plenty. I just need to…”

“Drink more? Get some vitamin D? Get some action? What?” he lists hurriedly.

 “Chocolate?” I close the laptop, keen to take a break.

“Why do you 
insist
 on fattening me up? But okay.” He grins and I get off the bed and take out my raspberry block from my suitcase.

Sitting back on to the bed we both take a square and moan in unison, enjoying it together.

“Well, I have to admit the people are so polite and friendly,” I say.

“And the men, too.” Gabe’s eyes widen as he swallows his chocolate. “Oh my god, speaking of hot men, did you take a look at the photographer Amelia hired? Mmmmhmmmm! I would much rather taste him than this chocolate, let me tell you. You have a good friend in her.”

“Oh Matteo? I’ve spoken to him.” Not to mention, I’ve hung out with him privately.

“Matteo? What a hot ass name! What’s he like? Spill, girl.”

I shrug my shoulders. “He’s nice…” Not to mention I’m meeting him for a private painting session tonight, but I would rather not tell Gabe now because he will
never
stop talking about it.

“You know Italian men are packing heat.”

“What does that mean?” I take another square and sit up, popping it into my mouth.

“They have big doodles.”

I clamp a hand over my mouth, forcing myself to swallow the chocolate and stifling a giggle. My goodness, thank god we’re somewhere private!

“I’m choosing to ignore that comment. Anyway, I just hope he’s easy to work with.”

He looks at me dubiously. “More like, you hope he’s easy to
sleep
with. I bet you want him to take you to pound town instead.”

“Gabe!”

He raises an eyebrow. “What’s wrong with admitting he’s hot? It’s not a crime, you know.”

“Well anyway, he’s the photographer which means he’s off limits.”

“Correction, he’s the delicious Italian photographer who is definitely
in limits
.” He sighs loudly. “If you change your mind, I 
suppose
 I can let you have him.”

“Nothing will happen with him!” I’m a professional, here for work. Not to ogle men I’m working with.

He points at me, his eyes widening. “Liar, liar pants on fire. You are as red as the wine I had last night!” Gabe checks his watch. “Crap, I better get ready. Rodrigo wants to take me to this place Montepertuso, they do this amazing seafood platter. If it’s good, I’ll go with you later alright?”

“Okay, sure. Have fun,” I lean in kiss him on the cheek.

Gabe scoots out of the room and I go back to the dining table and open up the laptop and go to my email portal, to see a fresh email in my inbox. It’s from Matteo!

From: Matteo Di Lorenzo

Subject: Re: Run Shee
t
Amelia and Kieran Wedding

Date: 4 May 2016 14:42

To: Lacey Ryan

 

Signorina Lacey,

Thank you for sending me the run sheet with locations and times, please see attached file with changes.

Am I still seeing you tomorrow
?
             

 

 

From: Lacey Ryan

Subject: Re: Run Sheet – Amelia and Kieran Wedding

Date: 4 May 2016 14:54

To: Matteo Di Lorenzo

 

I think I have some spare time to help out a struggling artist ;)

 

 

From: Matteo Di Lorenzo

Subject: Re: Run Sheet – Amelia and Kieran Wedding

Date: 4 May 2016 14:59

To: Lacey Ryan

Haha I’m not struggling!

Meet me 8pm same place the other day (the tree)
?

             

 

 

From: Lacey Ryan

Subject: Re: Run Sheet – Amelia and Kieran Wedding

Date: 4 May 2016 15:06

To: Matteo Di Lorenzo

Sure, see you the
n

 

 

I have to admit, I’m really looking forward to this. When else am I going to get a chance to be sketched, and in Italy of all places?

 


 

I’m working away on my laptop when my phone buzzes, and I have to blink twice to make sure I’m looking at the right name when I look at the screen. Tristan is calling me, again. I haven’t spoken to him since that drunken call a few days ago, and I heard a woman call out to him. I’ve been trying to suppress any thoughts of him, but here he is, springing to the forefront of my mind again. Butterflies form in my stomach. Why does that keep happening?

Shaking off my newfound nerves, I slide the phone to talk to him. “Hey!” I say, trying to sound casual and confident.

“Hey, how are you?” His voice is formal and curt, unlike the last time I spoke to him. “How is everything going, are the wedding preparations coming along smoothly?”

Is that why he called me? To check on how my work is progressing?

“Yeah it’s good. I guess I’m getting a practice run hey before I work with you.” I laugh softly.

“Any concerns with planning a destination wedding, how are you finding it?” He sounds so serious now, this feels like some sort of business call.

“Umm…well apart from the language barrier with some people and having to work the phone codes, it’s been pretty good. Nothing that I haven’t dealt with before,” I quip, suddenly feeling like I have to prove something to him.

“Did you fly okay?” His voice is now warm.

“Yeah it was fine, plane ride was a bit bumpy. It doesn’t help that the hotel is on a cliff top, but other than that I’m having a blast.”

“I apologise for the other night, when I called you. I was a bit tipsy as you could tell.” He laughs softly, and he sounds embarrassed. “I was just a bit surprised you left so suddenly, I thought maybe I chased you off.”

I bite my lip at the way he said it, like he wishes I didn’t leave. Wishful thinking of course. 

“So you thought a drunken call at 3am would be a good idea?”

He sniggers. “Well Hansley told me then, so what was I supposed to do?”

“Honestly the timing was purely coincidental and—”

“Can I have dinner with you?”

My heart leaps into my chest. The way he said it sounded intimate.

“Dinner?” I say, suppressing my rising excitement.

“Well, I’m not sure about you, but people tend to eat dinner because they’re hungry and they need to replenish their stomach,” he says mockingly. 

Never mind about the intimate part. Does he have to be such an ass-wipe sometimes?

“Since you ran off, I didn’t get a chance to go through how we’re going to work together. I need to talk with you about the business, setting up and logistics,” he quickly reverts to a serious and formal tone.

Of course it’s work related, how deluded of me to think he was asking me out.

“Sure, we can do that—”

“Lacey, I wanted to talk about...that day.”

Uh-oh. He’s addressing the proverbial pink elephant in the room.

“Yeah, what about it?” My voice is slightly shaky.

He pauses for a moment. “I need to make sure there will be no awkwardness if we are going to be working together.”

How ironic because he’s just made it awkward all on his own by bringing it up. “Awkwardness?”

“Is everything okay with us? After you know…”

I can feel a large lump forming in my throat. We’re going to be working together, of course we need to establish some ground rules. And I’m assuming he means no more kissing on the fly.

“Yeah, of course! I’ve totally forgotten about it,” I lie.
No, it’s not okay
! I wish I stayed that day and kissed you again and again.

BOOK: Amalfi Coast (That Wedding Girl Book 2)
4.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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