It wasn’t the first time I’d been to Italy but for some reason everything seemed much fresher and newer than the last time I’d visited Rome. Nevertheless, I was excited about seeing the headquarters for Prada, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana. This wasn’t just about work to me; it was about gaining cultural knowledge and, more importantly, time away from the office.
I had little over an hour before my first interview at Gucci so I decided to spend the time exploring the city. Rome was one of my favorite European cities, mainly because of the spectacular cathedrals and temples. I was merrily strolling down a winding cobbled road, admiring the beautiful scenery, when a moped screeched to a halt beside me.
“Excuse me but this is a pedestrian only road,” I snapped. “Do you have no respect?”
“Apologies.” A male Italian voice arose from inside the driver’s helmet. “My moped, she is not how she used to be. She spins out of control from time to time and I have no power over her.”
“Liar!” A female voice—presumably American—jumped in. A brunette girl was sitting in the vehicle’s back seat. From what I could tell from her outfit, she was a walking Guess advertisement. “You totally did that on purpose!”
The driver unclipped his helmet and held it under his arm. He was brutally handsome. In fact, anyone would’ve mistaken him for a model. He had thick black hair that had been spiked with gel, wide-set toffee-coloured eyes framed by dark lashes and naturally tanned skin. He smiled widely, revealing a set of perfect white teeth. “Now Missy, why would I ever do something that on purpose?”
The girl took off her helmet and slammed it on the guy’s knee. She had glossy brown ringlets, perfect clear skin and olive green eyes. She unzipped her black leather jacket. “Don’t pretend, Antonio. I know you did that so you could scare me. You know how much I hate this thing.”
Antonio looked upset. “Why be so cruel, Missy? My moped, she has feelings too.”
“Yeah, whatever.” Missy scoffed. She noticed me and smiled. "Hey. Sorry about Antonio, he didn’t mean to nearly kill you.”
“Of course not!” Antonio exclaimed, eyeing me. “It would be a crime to take the life of such a beautiful woman.”
Missy rolled her eyes. “I’m Melissa.” She held out her hand. I met it with a firm grip and shook. “But call me Missy.”
“And call me later.” Antonio winked.
“Antonio!” Missy snapped. “I swear, if you try one more of your lame pick up lines, I will kill myself.”
“I’m Kenzie. It’s nice to meet you.” I slid my Chanel aviators on top of my head. “Are you locals?”
“He is.” Missy jerked her thumb in Antonio’s direction. “But I’m from Michigan. I’m on a week’s vacation here. Antonio and I are cousins so he’s set me up in a sweet hotel. What about you?”
“I live in New York. I’m here on business.”
“Business, huh? Where do you work?”
“I work for The Babbling Post. I’m here to interview some of Italy’s most famous fashion houses.”
“I’ve heard of The Babbling Post,” Antonio interrupted. “The online fashion magazine?”
“How do you know it?” Missy smirked. “Read it in your spare time, I suppose?”
“No!” Antonio folded his arms across his chest and frowned. “I happen to know it was voted the 2nd best blog after PerezHilton.com.”
Missy rolled her eyes. “Whatever. It was nice meeting you Kenzie but I’ve got to find a restroom. See you later.”
“Don’t be long!” Antonio yelled after her. Once she was out of sight, he gazed at me with a look of admiration in his eyes. “Signorina, you are like a beautiful star that can only be adored from afar.”
Inside, I was melting like butter at this Italian stranger’s compliment. But on the outside, I kept my cool and smiled politely. “That’s a wonderful line, did you get that from Quasimodo?”
“Ah, so you are the cynical type.” He sighed softly. “Why do they not have girls like you in Italy, signorina? You have beauty and brains. Here, the girls only have one or the other.”
“I guess I was lucky,” I murmured.
“We should have dinner tonight,” Antonio insisted. “A romantic meal in one of Rome’s finest pizzerias and then a moonlit stroll along the Tiber.”
“As poetic as that sounds, I only just met you and I’d rather not take my chances.” I smiled sweetly. “Goodbye.”
“Wait, signorina! I can show you the most guarded secret in Italy, something very few people know about.”
“You’ll have to come out with me tonight if you want to find out.” He smiled mischievously. “I promise you, signorina, it is the most wonderous thing you have ever seen.”
“Fine.” I sighed, acting blasé. “I have nothing better to do tonight except sit alone in my hotel room, drafting my article.”
“Wonderful.” Antonio leaned against his moped. “I will see you then.”
“Don’t you need the name of my hotel?” I offered. “You’ll need to pick me up.”
He shook his head briskly. “I will find you. Ciao, bella.”
I glanced at my watch. It was 1 o’clock. Time for my interview at Gucci. Without saying goodbye, I turned and walked down the cobbled road, wondering if I had really just said yes to a date with the most gorgeous stranger in Rome.