Providence, Rhode Island
There was nothing enticing about waking up to a three-hundred pound man who smelled faintly of cheese—even if he was a silver-tongued veteran. Worse, he’d managed to utter the name Aidan Royce before Isabel could untangle mascara-laced lashes, prying open an eye. Her hand groped for the volume as radio DJ Chip Wrangle wrapped things up, Isabel hearing a velvet-timbre mention of the Grammy winning, mega selling music icon. But that couldn’t be right, she wagered, sitting upright. “Hey, did he just say—”
Rico ignored her, responding to the DJ’s voice as he always did, lazily stretching and vacating the bed. Isabel cocked her head at the radio. As the content manager for 98.6—the Normal FM for Easy Listening, she’d put a firm moratorium on celebrity gossip. But the aromatic Chip made no other reference, moving onto their Monday morning salute to the 60s. “Just a dream,” she said, flopping back onto the pillow. A hazy gaze floated upward, Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons crooning Walk Like a Man as Rico and his virile gait disappeared into the kitchen. He insisted on his breakfast and she rolled into reality, yelling, “I’m coming!” The two had met while Isabel was vacationing in Key West, Rico a refugee she’d picked up near the Hemingway house. He was the definition of machismo, excessive manliness an inbred trait. Dangling her noticeably more feminine legs over the side, Isabel tucked a thick thatch of hair behind her ear. She did a fast double take of the radio before rising. On her way out of the bedroom she grabbed a robe and a glance in the mirror. “Oh, good gosh! Seriously?” She wet her fingertips, only managing to smear a smudge of mascara, doubly relieved that it was just Rico.
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