An all-new marriage of convenience, small town romance is coming next week from author Melanie Harlow, and I have a sneak peek for you.
I took a deep breath. “Your favorite food is a meatball sandwich, your favorite city is Rome, your favorite color is blue. You’re good at math, you like books about architecture, you have an excellent memory. You speak some Italian, which I love. You like to bring me flowers, and I like cooking for you. You snore, but I don’t mind.”
“I don’t snore!” Enzo shrank back, offended. “And how would you know, anyway? We’ve never spent the night together.”
“Because we’ve also discovered our shared old-fashioned values,” I reminded him. “We don’t believe in sex before marriage.”
He made a face. “We’re not going to say that out loud, are we?”
“No. It will just be implied.” I smiled sweetly. “Now you go. What do you know about me?”
He inhaled and exhaled, running a hand over his chiseled jaw. “You have a sweet tooth and you sometimes eat cookies for breakfast—not that I’ve seen you do it, of course. You’re near-sighted, and without your glasses, you’re blind as a bat. Your favorite flowers are white roses. Your great-grandparents were bootleggers. You love traveling, especially to Italy. You moved home from Chicago to be closer to your family.”
“That’s good,” I interrupted. “Work that in for sure. The importance of family is another belief we have in common. Also wanting to raise a family in Bellamy Creek.”
“Now what’s something you love about me?” He scratched his chin. “Umm . . .”
“Enzo!” I swatted his arm.
“Well, you need to think faster. We have to get in there.”
“Okay.” He pursed his lips. “Your cooking.”
“You’re good at your job. You work hard. I like that you started your own little design company.”
“Don’t say it like that—it’s patronizing.”
“Fine,” he said through gritted teeth. “But I don’t get what the big deal is. It’s a design company. It’s little. You only have one employee—yourself.”
“Never mind. Okay, what else? There has to be a more personal thing.”
He frowned at me. “No nagging, remember? It’s in the contract.”
“We’re not married yet, and we won’t be if you can’t get this right. I get to nag for a moment.”
“Okay. More personal.” He appeared to think hard. “I like the way your butt looks in those jeans with the rip in the knee.”
I sighed heavily, even though his comment pleased me. “Less pervy, please.”
“It makes me laugh when you’re too short to reach your high kitchen cabinets?”
“Oh, forget it.” I unbuckled my seatbelt.
“No, wait! I can think of one.” He snapped his fingers. “You’ve got what my dad calls moxie.”
“Yeah. It means courage. Determination. You can handle what comes at you and land on your feet.”
That was actually a nice compliment. “Thank you, I’ll take it. Let’s go in.”
“I’ll get the door for you. Stay there.” He jumped out the driver’s side then stuck his head back in. “Sweet pea.”
I made a face. “Sweet pea? I don’t know about that.”
He came around and helped me down from his SUV. “Sugar pie?” he asked as he took my arm and escorted me toward the entrance.
“What is this, nineteen-twenty?”
“Come on, I need to call you something cute.” He pulled open the restaurant door and grinned. “I’ve got it.”
“I’ll call you mia polpetta.”
My heart fluttered. “Italian! That’s good, I like it. What does it mean?” I asked as I led the way toward the room at the back we’d booked to accommodate our large group.
Behind me, Enzo put his hand on the small of my back and began to laugh. “My little meatball. Now smile, polpetta, we’re on.”
I managed to give him an icy glare over my shoulder before turning my gaze forward again and plastering on my best I’m-the-luckiest-girl-in-the-world expression.
I’d murder him later.