Daniel and I stepped over the threshold of the hotel and it was as though we had entered a different atmosphere. He skipped down the stairs and when he had landed he turned to me with such an infectious smile, I couldn't help but beam back at him.
I don't even know him.
"Come," he said to me, offering me his hand.
"Where are we going?" I asked, walking passed him.
He laughed gently when I refused to take his hand and replied, "It's a surprise."
"Ah. A mysterious place."
"I like mystery."
"You hold some mystery." I widened my eyes in shock at my own word vomit. Why couldn't I control what came out of my mouth - was it Italy?
"Funny," he said with only a slight smile playing on his lips. "I was going to say the same thing about you."
"Me? I'm like an open book."
Daniel ignored my comment and continued walking silently. He made me nervous. What was he thinking, right now? And why did I care?
I tried to distract myself from my unusual thoughts and saw the scenery, we really did choose to come to the right place. Florence is beautiful. I could almost imagine what it would have been like centuries ago.
"Admiring Florence?" I heard his Italian voice croon as he stopped and looked down at me.
I paused as he looked straight into my eyes. Those are a perfect green. "Yeah, Florence."
Daniel's mouth twitched in the corner and a short laugh escaped him. He contined forward and said, "We're here."
I was looking at a tall building that fit in with the perfect scenery.
"That's beautiful," I almost whispered.
"Wait until we are inside."
Once inside I shook my head, disbelieving.
"Mr. DeMare, so glad you could make it. Is this your guest?" A British man, dressed in a suit greeted us.
I frowned in confusion.
"Yes, thank you. We're at an art exhibition," he answered my unspoken confusion, then leaning into my ear he said, "Don't worry, you're dressed for the part, bello."
"Who are you?"
"I guess you'll have to find out," he said as he raised his arms, signalling for me to lead the way.
The guests were sipping champagne, dressed in beautiful dresses and looking elegant. Was I really dressed for the part or was he just trying to make me feel better?
It wasn't long before I was lost in the art. I couldn't help loving beautiful things.
"Do you like it?" Daniel asked as he walked to my side.
"It's incredible." I couldn't help but beam up at him.
He ran his hands through his hair as he returned the smile, almost as if he were relieved. "I'm glad."
"I really would like to know who you are," I said, the words coming out without permission again, but this time I didn't mind.
"Do you like coffee?"
I frowned by the sudden turn in conversation. "Yes"
"How about you try some Italiano espresso." He smiled, raising his eyebrows as if daring me.
I giggled in response and let him take my hand as he lead me away...
It wasn't long before we were sat in a coffee house, opposite each other, sipping our drinks.
"So, Rachel. What do you do?"
"That would be spoiling the mystery," I countered.
He laughed. "I am just trying to see what makes you, you."
"That makes two of us."
He frowned a little.
I looked down at my phone and saw the time. Shit, Blake. "I should probably get back to the hotel. We've been gone a while."
"I will walk you back," he said as he stood up. "I can show you the scenic route."
"Isn't all of Florence the scenic route?"
Daniel winked in return.
I let him take my hand again as he led me to the streets of Florence. It really was beautiful. While we walking down the street, we were interrupted by singing Italian men and I laughed at my own situation. There are Italian men singing, down the street of an Italian place while I am with an Italian guy. Stuff like this only happens in movies.
As we listened to them sing, Daniel put his arm around my shoulders and laughed along. I got the feeling that he could rarely be free like he was with me now.
The singing men walked away and Daniel looked down at me, still smiling. As soon as his green eyes met mine, an electricity hit the air and my heart rate picked up. His hand left mine and he ran it through my hair. I couldn't tell if this swelling in my chest was panic or something else. He started to bend forward, but I just looked down. It was definitely panic.
"I've got to go."
At that moment, all the magic of Italy fell.
"Rachel?" he spoke, confused.
"I can make my own way back."
"We're going the same way."
"I just want to walk alone."
"Rachel," I could hear him call behind me, but I don't think he followed.
This was too much. I had come to Italy for myself, not to find another man. The romance of this country had enticed me, I admit that. But the truth was, I could still feel the sting of my heart being broken.
I ran up the stairs of the hotel and straight into my room, because I knew it was just a matter of time before the tears came.