Home > Roman Crazy (The Broads Abroad #1)(13)

Roman Crazy (The Broads Abroad #1)(13)
Author: Alice Clayton, Nina Bocci

“You remember my internship at BU’s art gallery, yeah?”

Daisy nodded, pushing herself up in the seat.

“My professors had suggested that if the Museum of Fine Arts was where I wanted to be, then I had to study abroad—become more well rounded. They suggested Italy, France, and Spain. There really wasn’t a bad choice. But there was something about Spain that stood out for me. I couldn’t wait to go.”

“It was all you could talk about,” she chimed in, gesturing to the driver to take a left here.

“Exactly. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, they said. They were only selecting a handful of art majors to study with this professor and I was at the top of the list. Everything I had been working for was finally about to pay off.

“My parents were thrilled. I was thrilled. Daniel—well, he wasn’t thrilled. We’d only been together for about a year, and me jetting off to a foreign country for months wasn’t his idea of what a girlfriend did. Not his girlfriend, anyway. Looking back on it now, knowing what I know, I wish I’d handled things differently. He wasn’t very happy when I left, and I left completely unsure of what I would come home to. I loved Daniel, of course I loved Daniel, but to be honest, I was kind of excited to go off on my own for a while; no boyfriend, no parents, it felt like I had permission to go off and try something new, something different. I could go wherever I wanted and do just about anything. Being independent was something that I wasn’t used to and desperately wanted to be.”

I paused as the cab pulled up in front of Daisy’s apartment, surprised we were already here. She paid, we climbed out, and she nodded for me to continue as we made our way into the courtyard and up the stairs.

“I landed in Barcelona and it was—I was a mess. Like I was when I got here. Excited but exhausted. Eager but nervous as all hell. I was alone for the first time in my life and truly responsible for me.”

“How’d you meet him? I mean, he’s a few years older than us and he wouldn’t have been in your program,” she said, turning her key into the lock and letting us inside. “You want anything to drink?” I shook my head, heading straight for the couch, while she made for the comfy armchair.

“He wasn’t. We met by accident. One of my classes was canceled and I had time to kill so I went exploring,” I explained, remembering the dog-eared travel book and map I brought over with me. “I’d flip a coin and just venture off on my own. I’d leave the map and take off with no plan and just enough money to get me back to the apartment safely if I ended up truly lost. That only happened once, and that was the day I met him.”

Daisy settled into the chair, relaxing back and resting her head on her hand as she listened intently. There was a stack of notepaper on the end table, along with a stubby pencil. I picked them both up and began to doodle a bit as I thought back to the day we met. Unbidden, my fingers began to sketch out the hillside where I first saw him.

“You’ve been to Barcelona; did you ever make it to Park Güell?” She nodded. “I hit the top of the Carmel Hill and I just fell in love with the city. I sat, leaning against the steps just trying to catch my breath from the climb and think about what I wanted to sketch when a few guys came around the corner.”

My Spanish was a bit rusty, so a lot of their back-and-forth was lost on me, but I knew they were asking me to join them for a drink. I shook my head, thanking them. Marcello was toward the back of the group and was lingering the way a boy does when he wants to talk to a girl away from his friends.

They all spotted a group of girls and took off down the hill, leaving the two of us alone with the rest of the tourists.

“Are you busy?” he asked in Spanish, motioning to my sketchbook, but he had already sat beside me on the steps. “Can I join you? I promise not to interrupt,” he tried this time in what I thought was Catalan.

He repeated everything in Italian, and finally . . .

“Yes,” I responded with a smile when he said it in English.

“And . . .” Daisy said, pulling me out of my thoughts. She leaned in, arms resting on the counter. “This is playing out like a romantic movie in my head. Keep going.”

I continued, telling her how he introduced himself with a handshake and so much charisma and swagger that he charmed me in an instant. We chatted for a bit. It was easy, innocent. I had these preconceived notions on how he would be. You hear about the European men and how flirty and pushy they are, but this guy—I felt a smile creep in at the memory of that day—this guy was just cute and chill and charming and somehow totally interested in this wide-eyed American.

We discovered that we were both at University of Barcelona. I told him about Boston and my hopes to get a better position at the Museum of Fine Art until I could find a job as a restorer. He was in a master’s program in architecture, so we could have gone the entire semester never seeing each other if it wasn’t for that canceled class.

What I didn’t mention was Daniel. It didn’t even occur to me to say, “Oh hey, by the way, I’ve sort of got this boyfriend back home . . .” I didn’t expect for us to see each other again let alone become what we did.

As I spoke I shaded and contoured the sketch with different sides of the pencil.

Daisy studied me with wide eyes. “Holy shit. I’ve got this odd sense of pride and yet I’m sort of irked. Mostly because, hello? Best friend!”

“I didn’t just keep it from you,” I defended, lining the outer edges boldly so they stood out against the white paper. I swept my thumb across the clouds, the skyline, and smudged the cobblestones.

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