“You are the naked girl on horse, yes?” he said, approaching her table from across the café patio.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Juliana said, pushing her enormous sunglasses up the bridge of her nose. Toward the end of her career as a celebrity horse trainer, she had ditched the ball gown for much less in a desperate attempt to regain control of her image. But in the end, she was still on the back of a horse.
“Yes, yes, but I know it is you,” he said. His open smile revealed a set of glistening white teeth that only accentuated his beautiful olive complexion. He looked sweet and unassuming and so far from her type.
She sighed. The charm of Italy and its men had worn off. She’d been there for three months and suspected she’d overstayed her welcome. She’d been found out.
“That’s very flattering, but no,” she said, getting up from her chair.
“But I am sure,” he kept on.
Juliana dug through her purse, trying to find a few coins for the bill. Digging up cotton balls, hotel-sized bottles of lotion, a T-shirt, Prozac, four identical tubes of mascara, and no money, she started to panic. If she couldn’t find a couple euros in the bottomless pit of her bag soon, she’d have to take off running from this man and an unpaid bill; surely then she’d be a fugitive and have to flee the country. Preparing to sprint, she felt a warm, heavy hand graze her shoulder blade.
“Would you like to get a cappuccino with me?” the man said, cutting off the zealous Italian with an all-American grin, “Some place else, of course.”
Juliana caught a lump in her throat. He was tall, fit, and blonde with a smile fitting for a politician.
“Uh, sure.” She looked into his eyes, an impossibly warm shade of blue, and realized she recognized him because he was a politician—a powerful one. Trusting this man, she knew, would likely spell the end of her and any dream she reserved for herself. Not that she believed in things like destiny.
He tossed a few coins on the table and offered his arm. “Shall we?”
Juliana readjusted the purse on her shoulder, slipped her arm through his as though she were slipping into a warm bath, and eased into going wherever he led.