Italian Heart

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Chapter 2

“Details! I want details right now!” Katie said as she thrust a glass of water into my hand along with some Asprin.

“I don’t even know where to start. Seriously, remind me never to leave the apartment ever again. I’m going to become a monk that takes vows to binge on Netflix and eat junk food.”

“Oh my god, you little slut. You totally did it with Ari Bellisario,” she said as she threw open my curtains, revealing a miserable, rainy Sunday. “So on a scale of...”

I held up my hand and groaned, making her to stop right where she was.

“First of all, that bastard ditched me for his ex the moment I got to the first ballroom, and second, I’m not hungover. I’m just so exhausted it’s not even funny.”

“But the picture...”

“Was taken 5.4 seconds before Naomi Tait swept in and made out with my fake date for the evening. And what’s worse, I didn’t get chocolate cake, which was a direct stipulation when I agreed to all of this crap in the first place. So to sum it up, I basically risked my internship and any sense of professionalism I may have had left for a whole lot of nothing.”

“Wait, yeah. You were supposed to be staying over at that place. How the heck are you here right now?”

“I drove two hours in the middle of the freaking night so I wouldn’t have to deal with any more drama. Oh, and want to know the icing on the cake?” Katie nodded profusely, ignoring the pun. “Marjorie’s taking all the credit for my hard work and will still probably blacklist me on my way out. Seriously, I don’t know why I’m still working there. I have one week until I leave anyway. Why not just go out with a bang?” I said as I flopped back onto my pillows.

“Ok, I know it seems bad now, but you can’t quit. You need to say that you completed the program or no company will consider it a resume booster.” She paused as if thinking through her next thought. “So, in honor of your crappy night, I propose a spa-day/binge-day/I-hate-Ari-Bellisario-day, yes?”

I just shook my head and groaned, the image of the green-eyed god himself flashed in my head. Yup, still unbearably hot, even if he was a jackass.

“I can’t even blame him for ditching me. Have you seen her? She’s literally every guy’s fantasy. And they dated for what, like a year?” I watched as Katie’s mind reeled for a second before she brushed her long red locks into a messy bun and pulled out my laptop, presumably stalking Ari and everyone he was ever photographed with in the last five years.

“So TMI says that Barbie and your sexy business mogul had one of those on-off relationships for the past six months until he caught her with some Euro soccer-hottie in May. From then on, Bimbo Barbie has been trying to get rid of her title as an ice queen by stalking him at all his charity events. I mean total Stage-5 Clinger status, if you ask me.”

“Business mogul?” I asked as I tried to place where I’d seen him before.

“Yeah, he took his trust fund and started a few businesses,” Katie said and her fingers typed quickly. “But I can’t access any information from their websites. He’s definitely mafia.”

A nervous laugh bubbled out as I thought of him putting out a hit on Marjorie. It was difficult not to feel better with Katie being who she was, but for a second yesterday, I thought I was finally ready to get back out there and date someone, and that was scary. After two years, I had finally found that fluttery feeling that made me want to smile and dance around to pop music and do a ton of other super cliche things, but it was gone as quickly as it’d come. Granted, I did pick someone pretty unattainable—and who may or may be in the mafia—but the flirting was addictive, and so were the abs I imagined him having. Tall guys with broad shoulders always had good abs in the movies so I figured I’d give him the benefit of the doubt.

“Definite ab-age,” Katie said before showing me a photo of him about to go surfing, his wet suit rolled down, revealing that sexy “v” at his waist. “Think he surfs? I could see him surfing.”

“Not that I don’t appreciate your research skills, but isn’t this I-hate-Ari-Bellisario-day?”

“Right, sorry. I can Photoshop a beer belly on him if you want?” she said before cringing. “Actually, scratch that. It’d be a crime. I’ll just stop showing you them.”

I rolled my eyes and scooched off the bed, my feet flexing as they stepped onto my plush carpet.

“Damn girl, those blisters look evil,” Katie said as she looked over my swollen feet and my sad excuse for pajamas. I literally just grabbed a shirt and shorts last night and managed to get a crop top and my Christmas boxers. And on top of that, my feet were puffy from the shoes I knew I shouldn’t have worn but did anyway.

“Ok, so maybe I should have gone with flats,” I said as I walked carefully to the bathroom. “Mind if I shower? I smell like celebrity desperation and bad seafood.”

“Good idea. I have to make a call anyway. Josh is flying to some business thingy in New Mexico, and he wanted me to call before he left.”

I gave her a little wave as if to say it was perfectly fine before stepping into the warm waterfall of my shower and washing away all the ickiness that was my evening.

“OH MY GOD!” Katie shrieked, pushing though my bathroom door. “OH MY GOD, SOPHIE YOU WON’T BELIEVE IT!”

I turned the nozzle to the right, ending the five seconds of relief I had before slinging my towel around me and seeing what was going on.

“Ari Bellisario is trying to call you,” she said, holding up my phone that read three missed calls from an unknown number.

“You do realize that could be anyone right, and I didn’t give him my number.”

“I perhaps listened to one of the voicemails,” Katie said before taking the phone, setting it on speaker, and pressing the replay button.

Sophie, it’s Ari. Look I’m really sorry about what happened last night. Naomi...well she was being Naomi, and by the time I handled the situation you were gone. I just wanted to say that I’m sorry, and if there’s any way I can make it up to you, please give me a call.

The message cut off there, but it didn’t stop Katie from squealing.

“Oh my god, he wants to see you again.”

“You do realize I want nothing to do with him, right? And aren’t you even a little concerned at how he got my number? That’s creepy.”

"It's not creepy if he's hot."

"You have heard of Ted Bundy, haven't you?" I frowned as she shook my phone in front of her like that was supposed to make me want to call him back. It did not. "And I’m not interested in being some fling. I don’t even think I’m ready for something like that. Not after Kyle."

“Kyle Schmyle. It’s been two years, and let’s be honest. It’s time you get back out there. You’re starting to morph into one of those forever-alone chicks with cats and obsessions with baking, and it’s scaring me,” Katie said as she hopped up on the bathroom counter, her purple fuzzy socks on full display. “So what if it’s only a one-night thing. This boy is GQ material. Why not just have some fun?”

“Your idea of fun is so far beyond mine. Seriously, I’m not interested. He ditched me. End of story.” I paused, making sure she looked me in the eye. “And there is nothing wrong with cats and baking. If I weren’t allergic, I’d definitely have a cat.”

Katie just grumbled something that sounded like I’m no fun before she slid off the counter, dialing her boyfriend.

As if predicting her exit, my phone lit up, blinking the unknown number against the black background of my screen. Well, I knew who it was, but he didn’t know I knew so blocking it would be explainable. Only, my fingers betrayed me because the next thing I knew, I was pressing answer and holding the phone to my ear.

"Hello?"

“Sophie?”

“How did you get my number? I didn’t give it to you,” I said, my tone unyielding. I didn’t know why I was answering, but it was too late to turn back now and curiosity was getting the best of me.

“Oscar thought I owed you an explanation.” Ari paused for a second as if waiting for me to call him the slew of curse words I was tempted to unleash. “I didn’t mean to leave you there alone. Naomi thought she was drugged, so I walked her to the bathroom. She threw herself at me, caused a scene, and then tried to say I assaulted her. By the time someone vouched for me, you were long gone.”

“Thanks for letting me know. You could have just texted."

“Call me old fashioned but I thought you deserved an actual apology. And I’d like to make it up to you. If you’d let me, of course.”

“That’s ok. Deal was off anyway.” I tried not to smile, waiting for his response.

“How so?”

“I didn’t get my cake.” And with that, I hung up on Mr. Smoldering-Green-Eyes, thoroughly happy that I didn’t let that slice of craziness back into my life.

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