Authors: Beverly Preston
sed her brow in question.
“Ouzo, like the love
of a woman, sneaks up on you.”
, he is good.
But you are not Greek. You’re Italian? Yes?”
He extended a glass, holding it between them. “Italian men believe women are like a fine wine. They should be savored, and consumed ever so slowly, enjoying each precious sip.”
A full grin blossomed over her face, chuckling
at his candor. She gave him a small nod, accepting the wine. He stood inches from her, filling each inhale with a delicious subtle scent. She’d always considered most Italian men and the bite of their cologne to be a bit intrusive, but his woodsy aroma held hints of tasteful sophistication. She couldn’t quite put her finger on it.
enjoy this. It’s a bit smoother.”
never acquired a love for the taste for wine, and preferred a sweet wine over the bold reds.
“You are a friend of Sophia’s?”
Tracy mind and face went blank.
“Umm—“ she hesitated. “—y
He cast a glance toward the bride and groom, mingling
their way through a line of guests in the distance. “How do you know her?”
He was simply breaking the ice by making
conversation, but his voice exuded curiosity, instantly melting her into a puddle of water. Evading the question, she turned toward the sea and picked up her camera. Tracy hated lying and was absolutely the worst at it.
nxiety sat heavy on her chest, sensing his stare. “I’ve been coming here the last few summers,” she mumbled a half lie from behind the lens.
So, you speak Greek?” He said it more of a statement of doubt than a question.
Tracy couldn’t stop the
smile from breaking over her flushed face. “Doesn’t everyone?” she simmered refusing to look at him.
A rustle of laughter rolled from his chest. He cleared his throat. “That’s a ver
y nice apparecchio fotografico…camera.”
Daring to peek at him, she smiled nervously. “Thanks.”
He nodded asking to inspect her
new Nikon D7000. Tracy relinquished her pride and joy hoping to detract the conversation from more questions. She sipped the wine, masking her aversion to the taste with a smile.
“You speak very good English.”
“Ahh…like you…I speak several languages.” His eyes flickered warily behind the dark disguise.
proceeded to say something in Greek.
of caution erupted in her gut. Unable to speak the language, she remained silent. I never should’ve listened to JC! Their stare met and held. Tracy fought the urge to squirm as a hot wave of embarrassment washed over her for sneaking into the wedding.
“I’ve always wanted to travel
to the United States,” he paused. His tone held an air of authority yet she found it maddeningly sexy. “This is perfect for taking pictures of vacanzo. Yes?”
“Si`. It’s a great camera for vacation. For every occasion.” Guilt began flowing from her mouth like the never-ending surf crashing onto the beach below. “The photo quality is first rate. Its exposure and metering are consistent.”
His lip twitched at the corner taking a drink of his wine. He seemed
amused by her nervous babble.
so close she took note of the close-shaven texture of skin at his throat as he swallowed the wine. “And the color…the color is faithful in every photo. The video is solid, but not stand out.”
The heat of his breath rustled near her temple as he whispered in her ear, “You don’t know Sofia. Do you?”
Caught in deception, a rush of prickling sensations crawled down her spine. She felt more like an incompetent criminal than a wedding crasher. Instinct set in and she considered simply walking away, but subconsciously moved a bit closer, breathing in his intoxicating appeal.
pressed her lips tight, inhaling deep through her nose. She made a tsk sound and blew out a huff of irritation. “Please don’t say—“
A man grasped
Giovanni by the nape of his neck, giving him a firm shake. Tracy turned, standing face to face with the bride and groom. Any air remaining in her lungs deflated, causing her to shrink in her own skin.
rhythm pulsed in her ears, drowning out their warm, genuine greeting in Greek. As the conversation carried on around her, she didn’t need an interpreter to translate. The masked newlyweds were obviously Giovanni’s good friends and were thrilled to see him.
y’s feet remained paralyzed in place. Her eyes darted through the guests searching for her sister and the nearest exit. Feeling the warmth of Giovanni’s hand on the back of her arm, Tracy looked up at him with an imploring smile verging on desperation.
studied her thoughtfully.
Using a tone of endearment, h
e introduced her as Maggie to the bride and groom. They flourished her with foreign words of delight and kisses to both cheeks. Giovanni continued the casual exchange, pointing JC out to the couple, giving her a quick wave.
’s startled expression mimicked a cartoon caricature mindlessly waving back, watching the scene unfold from the safety of the dance floor.
lutching her glass, Tracy took a lengthy draw of the wine. Giovanni looked down at her with unflinching directness. His long tapered fingers coasted down the back of her arm and laced through hers.
closer, he whispered in her hairline, “I told them you’re my date for this evening. They are very—“ he shot her a heart stopping smile searching for the correct American term. “—impressed.”
Glancing down at their entwined fingers, her brows tugged into an indignant frown.
Her heart pounded wildly in her chest as if she’d just finished a marathon.
The newlyweds excused themselves, moving on to the
next group of guests awaiting their warm reception.
” She snipped, attempting to snatch her fingers from his grip. “Am I supposed to say thank you?”
refused to relinquish her hand. “Si`.”
Her mouth dropped open
in surprise at his arrogance. “You just assume that I’m going to—“ Her lip curled in disgust. “—just be your…date?”
ld hate to see you have to leave.” His mocking smile verged on obnoxious. “Should I reintroduce you to my friends?”
She gasped at his deplorable suggestion. Giovanni’s gaze never wavered, capturing her curiosity with an impish gleam. “That is not very nice.”
“Si`, it’s very nic
e. The least you could do is have a drink with me.”
Acting like a skittish virgin being lured to the mouth of
a volcano as an offering, she snarled under her breath. “This is complete bullshit.”
No, bullshit. Simply great music, the perfect wine, a beautiful sunset—“ Easing his fingers beneath her palm, he lifted the back of her hand to his lips. “—an amazing woman.”
The heat of his grip and the impact of his smile seeped deep into her blood
sending her into an instant thaw. She’d never been infatuated by a man, especially by the suave flirtations of an Italian man. Even JC knew better than to fall for their rich sultry accents. But his grey eyes and bold charisma lured her in, trampling her good judgment.
er pride refused to submit so easily. “Are you asking me to be your date tonight?”
“Yes.” His tone
resolute as if it were a given.
“Because if you think I’m just—“
“Maggie—“ He dragged out the double consonants in a slow smooth voice. “I would be honored if you’d be my date for the evening.”
Separated by mere inches, her skin turned remarka
bly warm and heat gathered beneath her dress. “Will there be food on this date? Because I’m starving.”
dinner will have to wait un minuto.”
Before she had time to think of a reaso
n to decline, the word, “yes” slipped from her lips.
Perfect!” He grinned, holding up his finger. “I’ll be right back.”
“Don’t go anywhere.” He called over his shoulder making his way through the maze of guests.
Tracy couldn’t take her eyes of
f Giovanni’s tall lean figure as he trotted across the terrace. Watching him skillfully sneak behind the bar to retrieve a bottle of wine, she wondered how old he was.
JC snapped her fingers in front of Tracy’s face bringing her back to reality.
“What did they say to you?” JC inquired, scanning the terrace as if she waited to be escorted out. “What’s going on? Are we outted?”
He told them… Giovanni said…everything is covered,” she stammered.
“What did he tell them?”
Tracy took a deep breath and rolled her eyes. “I’m on a date.”
He saved the day introducing me as his date.” She attempted to grumble and seem annoyed, but to her own surprise she sounded delighted. “So now apparently I’m expected to play the part.”
“You’re on a real date?”
Tracy peeked over JC’s shoulder eyeing Giovanni making his way through the crowd. “How old do you think he is?”
“What? I’m sorry, I’m
still stuck on the fact that all of a sudden you’re on a date? You haven’t been on a date in a year. Is he really a professor?” JC taunted. “English major? Art curator?”
Tracy scoffed indignantly.
“Way to take one for the team!”
“Seriously, how old?”
, making a quick estimation as Giovanni approached. “Late twenties? Hard to tell with the mask.”
“May, the bar
tenders name is Dimitri and he’ll get you whatever you’d like.” Giovanni stated, handing the bottle off to Tracy. He reached for her camera, slipping the strap around his neck. “Lets go before we miss it.”
” JC said.
“Go? Where are we going?”
He leaned over the railing and pointed toward the tip of a rocky point virtually hidden around the cliff side. JC took one step backward slyly inspecting Giovanni’s ass, flipping Tracy two thumbs up.
“You want photos? Si`?”
“Yes, but you don’t understand.” Tracy shook her head adamantly. “I want photos from right here. I’ve dreamed of this for a long time, Giovanni. I don’t want—“
Perfection, yes?” Giovanni gathered the tips of his fingers and thumb, pressing them lightly to his lips with a kiss and joyfully tossed them into the air. An amused smile crossed his face, reassurance held steady in his eyes. He tugged on her hand, but her feet remained planted.
JC rolled her eyes shaking her head in near disgust
. “Loosen up the grip on the reins of your control horse! Live a little, Maggie. Go for it!”
Go for it. Those words rolled off her sister
’s tongue as if it was as easy as counting to three, but for Tracy it was like calculating pi, nearly impossible. Her moral compass was set on autopilot and always pointed toward a thought out, well-considered decision. Doing something impulsive or spontaneous went beyond her limitations; she lived by schedules and lists, not the seat of her pants.
“Do you know what is going to happen
soon?” Giovanni’s gaze perused the guests.
JC smothered a laugh.
“The police are going to come and escort us back to our hotel?”
You’re going to get kicked out.” A devilish grin burned in his eyes watching the color drain from Tracy’s face. “Of this spot,” he added. “Everyone is gathering for sunset pictures.”
If he were
n’t so damn sexy, he’d be irritating. And to make him even more insufferable, Giovanni was right. Tracy’s nose wrinkled in disappointment. The entire wedding party began to congregate near the doors of the church. He gave her a teasing pout, jiggling her fingers.
“I’ll take you to a better location
. A place that only locals know of.” He taunted in an assertive voice so tantalizing her moral compass started to spin as if it had a mind of its own.
Colors of the late day sky began to deepen as
Giovanni and Tracy crisscrossed down a maze of narrow sidewalks. The slight compression of his hand on the small of her back kept her on edge, yet she found it strangely comforting.