Book Excerpt To Rome With Love

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Book Excerpt

“I have a surprise for you.”

Gaby’s eyebrows slammed together at her best friend Maria’s words. She didn’t like surprises. Maybe because she’d had so many of them, lately. Mostly of the nasty kind. Surprises like her husband Danieli telling her he was divorcing her to marry Angelica, a twenty-four-year-old Peruvian waitress at the San Francisco restaurant he and Gaby co-owned. A woman with the body fat of a Sony Ericsson flip phone, who filled the saltcellars with sugar and routinely dropped trays of expensive wine, but was, miraculously, never too tired for sex. Or at least that’s what Danieli had said.

Surprises like the restaurant’s maître d’ breathlessly confiding to Gaby that Angelica’s sexual exploits had earned her the moniker, “The Lima Lay,” and that said “Lima Lay” could suck a melon through a garden hose. (Gaby hadn’t cried that much since Princess Diana died.)

Maria herself had sprung something of a surprise on her, too, though, thankfully not of the nasty kind. More like the mind-blowing kind. Barely an hour earlier, her friend had picked Gaby up at Rome’s Fiumicino airport and instead of taking her to a nice flat with a nice view, had transported her to a block-long, 16th century Renaissance limestone palace on Via del Corso that popes and princes had called home. It boasted enough sumptuous furnishings, masterpiece art, and priceless antiques to make the White House look like Applebee’s—and made Gaby very nervous she’d spill Chianti everywhere. And let’s not forget the surprise of walking into what turned out to be the ancestral home of Maria’s uber-wealthy new husband, Carlo Pierangeli, through its vast, silent, cloistered courtyard and up a frescoed stone staircase to the piano nobile, only to discover it overlooked the Colosseum. That’s right. That Colosseum.

So, yes, even though Gaby knew the palace might just be the perfect place to heal from the humiliation of her divorce, her head was fairly whirling with all the surprises, and she honestly didn’t think she had the strength for any more. “I don’t like surprises.”

“You’ll like this one.” Maria pulverized basil, pine nuts, and generous helpings of olive oil to make pesto and then started sautéing some small chicken breasts for dinner. Gaby wasn’t hungry, but in Italy it was a crime not to eat, particularly if your hostess was cooking.

Maria fixed her gaze on Gaby, her celadon eyes filled with sympathy. “Carissima amica,” she chided her gently. “You’re almost divorced now and it’s time to meet someone new. And I have just the candidate.”

Gaby set her glass firmly down. “Now, Maria . . .”

Maria lifted her hand like a traffic cop. “I know what you’re going to say, but—”

Just then, there was an insistent rapping on the door of the apartment.

Scusi.” Maria deposited her glass on the counter and walked to the foyer.

Gaby heard her unlock the door and say, “Caro,” and then a man’s voice speaking rapid Italian. His tone was firm but low and Gaby couldn’t make out what he was saying.

“I’m making pasta. Why don’t you come eat with us? Maria asked in Italian.

Curious, Gaby opened the elegant paneled doors several inches and poked her head out. In the doorway was a tall man with a swath of silky dark hair that looked as if it had been styled by the fashion gods at L’Uomo Vogue, and a face finely carved by the angels. He looked like a first-century sculpture, lean and sleek, all muscle and sinew, and his fitted lavender shirt set off his bronzed skin and hinted at the kind of muscled biceps and washboard abs to make a woman weep. Only the most supremely confident man could wear lavender. And jeans that snug.

Scusi.” Maria deposited her glass on the counter and walked to the foyer.

Gaby heard her unlock the door and say, “Caro,” and then a man’s voice speaking rapid Italian. His tone was firm but low and Gaby couldn’t make out what he was saying.

“I’m making pasta. Why don’t you come eat with us? Maria asked in Italian.

Curious, Gaby opened the elegant paneled doors several inches and poked her head out. In the doorway was a tall man with a swath of silky dark hair that looked as if it had been styled by the fashion gods at L’Uomo Vogue, and a face finely carved by the angels. He looked like a first-century sculpture, lean and sleek, all muscle and sinew, and his fitted lavender shirt set off his bronzed skin and hinted at the kind of muscled biceps and washboard abs to make a woman weep. Only the most supremely confident man could wear lavender. And jeans that snug.

 

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