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Home > Roman Crazy (The Broads Abroad #1)(8)

Roman Crazy (The Broads Abroad #1)(8)
Author: Alice Clayton, Nina Bocci

Turning onto Via del Moro, we passed shops and cafés readying for the late dinner rush. Each building had outdoor seating, every table loud and boisterous.

I was swept up in the city’s energy. It seeped into every pore, moving me along like a marionette; by the time we reached the restaurant, I had sensory overload in the best possible way. The restaurant looked to be about the same as a dozen others that we passed. Brick, old as dirt, and full of life.

“Across the river is another favorite spot of mine. Campo de’ Fiori, this gorgeous outdoor market over the bridge. You’ll have to see it. It’s like a color explosion. Bring your sketchbook for sure.”

“Mm-hmm.” I nodded absently, watching the traffic patterns and trying to discern if there was indeed a pattern or just barely contained chaos.

“Do you still like charcoal when you sketch? I know for a while there you were digging colored pencils, right?”

“Hmm? Yeah, either I guess.”

“You guess?” she asked, looking at me curiously.

I stopped, chewing nervously on my ponytail, and narrowly missed getting clipped by a Vespa zipping by. The driver shouted a colorful expletive and tapped his helmet. “Where exactly are we headed to next? Are we close or—”

Daisy stopped abruptly, whipping around to face me. “Did you just change the subject? I know a sidestep when I see one, Bardot,” she said, using my maiden name. She was my maid-of-honor when I became Avery Remington, but she was my only friend who refused to use that name.

I shrugged, closing the distance and walking around her to head up the narrow alley that spilled into a bustling piazza. Dozens of people were chatting near a fountain. Others were pointing their cameras at the crush of pigeons dive-bombing the crust a waiter tossed outside. It was busy, frenetic, and hopefully distracting enough to—

“Hey, hey!” Daisy shouted, catching up. Nope. She wasn’t going to be distracted by this. Sighing heavily, I turned to face my friend.

I’d gotten used to avoiding that conversation over the years when it was over the phone or on Facebook. “How’s your sketching going; working on anything new?” or, “Finish anything incredible lately?” Facebook posts I could beg off of. Phone calls, I was able to change the subject or blame the shitty signal because she was off on some adventure where the least exciting part was spotty cell phone coverage. Those calls proved to me how fully she was living her life, which I didn’t begrudge her, but that made mine seem boring and flat in comparison.

But face-to-face? She’d called my dodge in less than a day. I couldn’t hide from her disbelief.

Glancing at the signs, I looked side to side but couldn’t figure out which way we were supposed to head. Everything looked the same on every street.

“It’s just not something I do much of anymore.”

“Not much of?”

“Or at all.”

“But you loved to sketch, you loved to paint. How many hours did you used to spend in the art building at BC? You practically lived in that studio.”

“Yeah, well, Boston College was a long time ago; maybe I just fell out of love with it.” I could hear how thin my excuses were, so thin they were nearly transparent.

Based on the way she was shaking her head, she wasn’t buying it, either. “Huh-uh, no way. You don’t just fall out of love with it.”

“People fall out of love with things all the time, Daisy. I think me being here is a perfect example of how true that can be.”

I could feel tears beginning to build. Jesus this was hard to talk about. Blinking them back, I rubbed the invisible ache in my chest.

“I’m not trying to minimize Daniel here, but I’m actually more concerned about the fact that you’re not sketching anymore than I am about you divorcing your husband.”

“What do you want me to tell you?” I snapped. “That somewhere, yesterday or years ago, I set aside some of my own great stuff to focus on Daniel’s great stuff. Like how getting him through law school trumped me going to grad school. That being an understanding wife when he started at the firm and had to work seventy hours a week meant that there wasn’t time for me to go back to the gallery. Creating a beautiful home for us took precedent. Managing every single one of the countless bullshit details that it took to keep our lives running smoothly so that he could go and be a bigshot lawyer and I could make sure that the gardener wasn’t cheating us on the price of fertilizer!”

I was yelling. I was yelling at my best friend in the middle of a crowded street in Rome just because she had the audacity to ask me about something that at one point in my life was the very definition of who I was and who I would become.

“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have—”

She held up her hand. “Don’t apologize.” She linked her arm through mine.

“But I yelled at you,” I sniffed, wiping away frustrated tears with the back of my hand.

“Yes you did.” She laughed lightly. “You want to sketch while you’re here, sketch. You want to just wander around and enjoy? Do that, too. Do whatever you want while you’re here, Avery, I mean that. And don’t worry about stuff like fertilizer anymore, capisce?”

“Capisci,” I said, nodding.

“Good, that’s settled,” she said. “Now come on, Fodors, the restaurant, is this way. Unless you want to yell at me some more.”

“Oh just take me to dinner,” I said, squeezing her arm, grateful to be here and with someone who actually cared about me and what I might want for a change. And right now, I really did want dinner.

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