Amalfi Coast (That Wedding Girl Book 2) (5 page)

BOOK: Amalfi Coast (That Wedding Girl Book 2)
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Complete silence ensues on the other line, then he says quietly, “You have?”

I clear my throat, trying my best to sound cool and collected. “Don’t think any further of it, okay?”  I raise my voice, almost sounding shrill.

“Oh. Good. I just thought…” He pauses, and I hear him hitch his breath. “Anyway! I just wanted to make it clear that what happened was a once-off and it will
never
happen again, in case you were wondering. I’m glad we’re on the same page.”

I blink rapidly, pressing my mouth together tightly.
It will never happen again.
Translation: I want you to get over any delusional fantasies of being with me, so I can go out with hot yoga teachers and take girls out to bars until 3am. In case I was wondering? He’s the one who kissed me!

“I understand,” I murmur.

“Are you sure?” His voice is quiet, yet full of unease. I sense him wanting to say more, but he doesn’t.

“Yes, it’s all under the carpet. I promise,” I say dryly.

He breathes a sigh of relief. “Thank you, I appreciate that—”

Suddenly the door opens wide and Gabe bursts into the room, looking sharp in his casual blazer and chino pants. He looks like an excited puppy dog. “Oh my god! I just ran into Matteo. Mmmmhmmm!” he says loudly, dashing up to me.

“Hold on one second,” I pull the phone away from my ear, looking at Gabe. “Hmm?”

“Says he’s looking forward to tonight, you slut! You didn’t tell me you were having a date with him!”

Oh crap
, Tristan can probably hear all of this. I cover the phone with my hand.

“Can we talk about this later?” I whisper. I mouth ‘caterer’ to him and he widens his eyes.

“Oh shit, sorry. We need to talk ASAP, ciao!” He scoots out and I’m not sure I want to return to the conversation I was having.

I put the receiver to my ear, complete silence greets me.

“So, is that true. What he said? You and the
photographer
?” He growls, and I can practically hear the venom dripping from his voice.

“Oh, that was nothing—”

I hear him breathe sharply. “Just be mindful that you need to maintain a professional image at all times. I don’t want my brand tarnished by your coquettish shenanigans as they will have an impact on the way you are perceived by clients.”

Is he implying that I’m a …? I’m done with this conversation.

“Look, is there anything else you need to say? This is an expensive phone call that could have been resolved over a text message,” I snap, failing to hide my rising irritation.

His nostrils flare, loudly. Something tells me he doesn’t like being flouted. “No, I suppose not.”

“Good. Anyway, I have to go. I’ll let you know when I’m back. Bye!” I hang up.

I put my phone on the desk, pushing it away from me. How dare he assume I would think that? He may be charming but god, sometimes he is so arrogant and rude it’s insufferable. Does he really think that little of me? Yes, I lied, but what choice did I have? What was I supposed to say to him? That I’ve been pining over him non-stop, that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about the way he looked at me on my intended wedding day, the way he touched me, the way his touch spread heat on my skin like wildfire? No, I couldn’t, and he’s just reiterated that I said the right thing. And to think that here he was, thinking I was going all gaga over him! There goes any thought I had of him being appealing. 

Gabe is right, I
do
need to enjoy myself. Matteo is right, I’m in Italy for god’s sake I do need to get out of this hotel.

I stand up and go to the bed, grabbing the hotel phone and dialling it frantically. An entire afternoon of facials, massages and manicures await me, and now I have the perfect excuse to get pampered. I
will
have fun here.

CHAPTER SIX

 

Peering down my watch for the fifth time, I tap my feet out of impatience and nervousness, my silver clutch hanging by my hips.

7:58pm

My nerves are almost obstructing me from enjoying the beauty that is this spot. The sunset is piercing, a fiery red orb of light slowly sinking beneath the horizon, dyeing the sky a light first pink.

Where is he? Maybe he meant another spot? Surely not. Maybe he’s changed his mind and doesn’t want to meet anymore. I’ve checked my phone a few times, nothing. God I hope I didn’t waste my time getting all dressed up, otherwise I will feel like a fool. I toiled over countless outfit options before settling on my black maxi dress and chunky knit cardigan. Casual? Sexy? Cute? I hoped to look all three, and with my hair cascading past my shoulders I thought I looked good. I’ve worn a bit more makeup than usual but I don’t want to take any chances – I’m getting drawn for god’s sake.

I look at my watch again, then I become aware of someone looking at me. There wasn't anyone behind me a moment before. He gives me a friendly wave as I turn towards him.

“There you are,” I say, trying to suppress my relief. 

He mutters something inaudible in Italian, but that glimmer in his eyes is on full display.  I can see his sketchpad in one hand, but the large insulated bag in his other hand catches my eye.

I point to the bag. “What’s that?”

He keeps his gaze on me. “We eat after, yes?”

That’s very nice of him. I didn’t expect to a meal with him alone. Not to mention, I already had dinner with Gabe before.

“So where should I sit? Over by the—”

He takes a longing glance and looks disapprovingly. “This you wear?”

What does that mean?
“Why? What’s wrong with it?”

I didn’t know there was a dress code for this session, I certainly did not get the memo.

“Beautiful
signorina
should wear more…How do you say? Colourful clothing,” he said looking at me with an appraising eye.

He called me beautiful!


Qui
…” He puts the basket down on the floor and opens the bag up, pulling out a canary yellow scarf. It’s long and beautiful, like a golden silk wrap.

He holds up the scarf in front of me. “This is like
il sole
, the sun. Put this on.”

My mouth goes agape as he pushes my cardigan off my shoulders, letting it drop to the ground in one heap. Without further ado, he puts the silk wrap over me to replace the cardigan. I get the privilege of smelling him again, that scent of soap and sand. I feel the warmth of his fingers through the thin delicate cloth as he fastens it around my neck, tying it like a loose braid. His fingers are just mere inches away from my chest.

“Sit there.” He stands back, gesturing to the narrow ledge overlooking the natural landscape.

I do as he says and sit down, excited to see Matteo work his magic. 

“Turn
a sinistral
,” At my blank stare he says, “To the left.” He puts his hands on my shoulders, guiding me until I look away from the temple and him. He knows exactly what he is doing, and he is here to execute his vision.

He stands to observe me and my position for a moment before coming over to me, when he grabs my hands. 

“Put them like this,” he binds them together and puts them over my lap. His hands are calloused, rough but tender at the same time.  He gives me a gentle smile and walks back to his sketchpad and pencil. After glancing at me for a few seconds, he proceeds to sketch.

Matteo is in full concentration mode now, and when he’s not looking I sneak a glance over at him. His brows are furrowed, focusing intently on the paper and his left hand is holding the end of the pencil so elegantly. He’s so serious, yet he looks so at home when he is drawing. Something tells me that photography is his day job and his way to make ends meet but this is his true passion, and something he is serious at working towards.

Complete silence ensues. His hand moves over the canvas and it's almost like his mind is directing his hand. I can hear the pencil move around the paper, to the left, to the right. To the top, to the bottom. This feels odd but nice; to just sit here and enjoy the cool summer night air, and bask in nature and let my mind mellow. Away from my phone, my laptop, all the technological realities of my life.

I sit without fidgeting, letting him create his vision of me and I hope I’m what he is looking for artistically.

More sketches, more glances my way, more pausing. I don’t know how long this has been going on but I’m not keeping track of the time. It’s nice to not have to do that for once.

Eventually he calls out to me. “Okay, I am finished.”

Oh. That was nowhere near as long as I had expected. I check my watch, breaking me out of my relaxation bubble. It’s 8.39pm. He’s only been sketching for twenty-five minutes!

My eyes cast over to the picnic basket, and I remember that he bought it out for us to enjoy.

“What’s in there?” I point at it, keen to see the contents.

He laughs softly to himself. “You hungry, yes? Me too.”

Actually no, but I can still sample some Italian delights. He opens the bag and it appears to be a bottomless pit as he pulls out a thin but expansive picnic blanket, a bottle of sangiovese and a plastic platter with three small wheels of cheese. I watch him proceed to pull a punnet of figs and finally a packet of crostini crackers. Cheese, crackers, and wine…I think I’ve died and gone to food heaven.

“This is enough,
si
?” he looks unsurely at me. “Thank you
for meeting me tonight.” He gives me a wide grin and he looks so young. I swoon.

“This is perfect,” I insist, returning his enthusiastic grin.

He sets up the picnic underneath a large tree, laying out everything like a casual picnic. As he pops the bottle of wine open, I grab some crackers and using the cheese knife, I cut small wedges of all the cheeses.

The first one is a pecorino and immediately I can taste the smokiness and grape marc, it’s unlike any cheese I’ve had before.  The second cheese is crumblier in texture. It must be Asiago d'Allevo. The third and final cheese is one I have never tried before, and it has a rather distinctive mushroom flavour. It has holes in it and looks like a piece of cake. If I had to pick a favourite it would have to be the Asiago.

“What’s this cheese here?” I point at the third piece of cheese.

“This is fontina. It’s got a nuttier flavour.” He pours wine into the plastic wine glasses and hands me one.

Matteo downs his drink in one go, like it is water. He proceeds to eat and remains silent. I follow suit and eat quietly. The drawing session was peaceful and tranquil, and this impromptu picnic is no different. It’s nice to just sit here and enjoy the warm summer night eating this delicious food. Matteo eats like he has all the time in the world, stretching out his legs as he looks over at the fading sunset. He drinks like a fish however, downing half the bottle himself. 

“Can I see the sketch?” I ask, glancing at the closed sketchpad sitting next to the insulated bag.

He flinches a little, and stops eating his fig. “It’s not complete yet. But when I’m finished, you can see it.”

I can respect his artistic right to keep his work to himself.

“So the wedding with Amelia, are you looking forward to it? Excited?” I ask, hoping to start a conversation.

He looks pensive, avoiding my gaze. “Yeah sure, I’ve been to Amalfi Coast lots of times. I always like coming back here. But to be honest, photographing weddings is not my
preferenza
.”

My ears perk up. Did he just say that? To capture love in its most pure form, in such a celebration would be a privilege to me. And he just thinks of it as his job?

“Why? Weddings are so
bellissimo
.” I made it a goal to say at least one Italian word tonight. Mission accomplished.

He senses my affronted tone and finishes his fig. “Money is good, but I like nature, animals, landscapes” He turns to look at me. “And portraits are pretty fun, too.”

I raise an eyebrow. “Hopefully I didn’t fidget too much.”

Matteo smiles. “No, you behaved very well! There’s nothing I wouldn’t want to paint, draw.”

“Well your drawings are beautiful, the tree from yesterday,” I say.

A smile appears on his full lips, and he turns to look at me. “
Grazie
, that’s very kind of you. So why do you like weddings?”

I always get asked this question, but only from a client or friends. “It’s joy, happiness, and love all in one day.
Amore
, lots of
amore
!”

“But marriage is…
non necessario
, no? If people love each other, is that not enough?”

I shrug my shoulders. “I think if two people love each other, it’s the most necessary thing…” I trail off, not wanting to start a lecture. It’s not just an institution. Marriage is a wonderful way to show how much you love them and how much you want to commit to them for the rest of your life. What’s wrong with making a joyous occasion of it, to share with your family and friends?

“You are from Australia. So far away…what’s it like?” He continues as he pours himself the rest of the wine, and I’m glad he’s changed the subject.

I pop another fig in my mouth. “Public transport is horrible, it’s always congested. Houses are so expensive. But, its home and I wouldn’t trade it for anywhere else.”

“So, do you have a boyfriend back home?” He looks at me, his eyes blazing.

My eyes widen at his question. Why does he want to know? “No. I don’t have one,” I pause. I
had
a fiancé but that’s shot to hell. “You?”

His smirks and he looks at me while drinking the rest of the wine, and we look at each other eye to eye.

“No, I don’t have a boyfriend either,” he teases.

I laugh. “You know what I mean!”

He looks at me eagerly. “It’s a shame you can’t stay in Italy after the wedding.”

I sigh, agreeing with him a hundred percent. “I know. I would love to check out Capri, even head up to Rome—”

“I live in Rome.”

“Oh, you do?”


Si
, it is a beautiful city. If you decide to stay in Italy a bit longer…”

Damn, he knows how to make a tempting offer. I can’t just extend my flight ticket at the drop of a hat, besides there are unresolved things I have to deal with at home.

I look down at the picnic blanket and notice that everything has been finished.  I can’t get over how he can drink with ease. He has had two thirds of that bottle, yet he acts exactly the same as before. There’s not even a trace of redness on his cheeks.

“Thank you, for all of this,” I gesture to the food. “I had a really good time. See I left the hotel, didn’t I?”

Matteo raises his eyebrows. “This is not really leaving the hotel!”

I roll my eyes. “You know what I mean.”

“Well, thank you for agreeing to see me, I don’t get that many volunteers who want me to draw them.”

Who the heck would turn him down? I know Gabe sure as hell would sign up! He would pose naked, for
free
.

“Well I’m glad I could help you practice—”             

“Especially, such a beautiful volunteer like you.”

I blush furiously under his scrutiny. Okay, I think he is definitely flirting with me. The way he is looking at me is not good. It is way too protracted.  All of a sudden, the phone in my bag vibrates and I quickly open my clutch to check. I refrain from the urge to roll my eyes. It’s a text from Tristan. What does he want now? After that insipid phone conversation, I have mixed feelings about him. Sliding the screen, I view the message.

Who is the guy?

Sighing quietly, I text back the only response I can think of.

Someone who says what they mean.

I press send, and immediately switch the phone off before dropping it into my bag. Matteo moves so he moves closer and as an immediate reflex, I turn my head away. I’m not in the mood anymore, I just want to go back to the hotel.

“I think it’s getting late, I am going to head back,” I say politely. This is where the evening should end, I’m doing the right thing calling it a night now.

He opens his sensual mouth and starts to say something but stops himself.

“Of course, as you wish.” He doesn’t look offended in the slightest, and starts packing up the food. I stand up and watch him fold the blanket, shoving it into the bag along with his sketchpad and materials. There’s something so easy breezy about him that I don’t see in a lot of men back home.

We walk back up to the hotel lobby and elevator in complete silence.  Standing a few feet apart as the elevator rises higher, I avert my gaze to my sandals, draping my cardigan over my arms.   The door dings at my floor and I expect to say goodbye to Matteo now, but he leaves the elevator and walks with me.

BOOK: Amalfi Coast (That Wedding Girl Book 2)
5.85Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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