It had been
one heck of a day. Who was she kidding? For Lizzie Rosniak it had
been a heck of a month.
been fired from her job as a daytime soap opera writer when the romantic
storylines she had spent the past three months developing had suddenly
been deemed unrealistic and melodramatic. Seriously, this from a show
whose other writers had made three regulars become serial killers in the
three years she’d worked there.
lost yet another clever, polite, suit-and-tie boyfriend for whom she had
shaved her legs bi-weekly and worn sexy lingerie even though the lacy bits
made her itch, yet who hadn’t turned out to be the Mr Right his
credentials had promised her he would be.
And if she
hadn’t taken her seat on a jet plane two days earlier, she would have lost
her sizeable deposit on a trip she had meant to have taken with Mr Now So
So now here
she was, holed up in a shabby suite in a small, ramshackle hotel poised on
the edge of Lake Como, in the middle of a freezing northern winter.
Alone. What thirty-six hours before had seemed a truly
melodramatic raspberry to the world, now felt like the rotten cherry atop
the deflated cake that was her life.
her handbag onto the too soft, chintz covered, king sized bed with a
grandiose sigh. After sleeping the day completely away in a haze of
exhaustion, her late afternoon trip trekking the edge of the lake to take
in the tall craggy mountains, crystal clear water and fairytale
architecture she’d glimpsed on the death-defying bus ride in, had ended up
with her getting a face full of blizzard and shoes full of melting snow
while an hour’s walk away from the hotel.
Her hair now
felt like sludge. She had started to sneeze. She was starving after
eating airport pizza for dinner the night before and nothing since. And
she hated pizza. Always had.
She looked to
the phone beside the bed with thoughts of food a high priority. But the
French phrase book she had packed instead of the Italian one she had meant
to bring hadn’t done her much good five minutes earlier explaining to the
female concierge downstairs that she didn’t need two glasses with
her complimentary champagne. Asking for room service for one was just
about beyond her.
dragged her damp cold clothes from her back and left them in a trail on
the floor on the way to the bathroom.
She looked at
her face in the mirror. Hair like a mop. Cheeks like she’s been
slapped. And eyes like glimmering pools of sadness.
Beach Street fired you if that’s the kind of soppy guff you’re coming
up with these days,’ she said aloud.
her lips, and pulled her wet brown hair off her face trying to make
herself presentable, her round cheeks chiselled and interesting, her pale
grey eyes wide and captivating.
For though a
small round woman had manned the desk that afternoon, the night before had
been quite different. The night before she’d been checked in by a man.
One who had spoken English. With an accent to be sure. But a
rolling, dark, husky accent. And dark curling hair. And smooth olive
eyes had met, he had given her a double take. Perhaps because she’d just
arrived after more than twenty-four hours of travelling and might very
well have looked like something the cat dragged in. But she didn’t think
so. It had been the kind of second look that had made her think of
sunshine on the back of her neck and cool Muscat grapes popping lusciously
between her teeth. The kind of look that could give a girl, who until
very recently had written heightened love stories for a living, grand
ideas of her own.
Or maybe it
was just the fact that she’d landed in a summer town in the dead of winter
and hearing some random beautiful Italian man straight out of an old
Fellini film actually speaking perfect English had made her momentarily
She let her
hair drop in clumps around her cold ears.
‘No men,’ she
demanded of her reflection. ‘No looking. No daydreaming. No picturing
what your kids would look like. And definitely no melodrama. Relax,
unwind, recharge. And that’s it.’
into the ancient looking shower, turned the taps to hot, waited for the
room to fill with blissful steam, then stepped beneath the piping hot
spray. She let out a great long sigh as the pellets battered her cold
skin, melting her limbs, soaking her hair straight, making everything feel
like there was a chance it could all turn out okay.
And then with
a long telling whir, the lights flickered and switched off. As Lizzie
stood glaring at the fading filament in the bathroom globe, the heating
droned to a noisy halt and the water turned bitterly cold.