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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group

Island in the Sea: A Majorca Love Story

Anita Hughes

St. Martin's Griffin


chapter one

JULIET OPENED THE LOW GATE and climbed the steps to the villa. She gazed at the garden filled with purple daisies and pink bougainvillea and thought she had never seen so much color. The sky was bright blue and the villa was painted pale pink and the silk curtains drifting out the open windows were turquoise and orange and yellow.

She knocked on the red wood door and instinctively tucked her hair behind her ears. She knocked again and turned to look at the view. She had only been in Majorca for two days but already she thought the whole world consisted of narrow streets and bright plazas and views of fishing boats bobbing on the Mediterranean. She saw the Tramuntana Mountains and sweeping green valleys and olive trees clinging to the cliffs.

She opened the door and smelled pine and cigarettes and garlic. She peered into the living room and saw dark wood floors and yellow plaster walls and high mosaic ceilings. The room was scattered with floral sofas and wooden coffee tables and plump striped cushions. There was a grand piano and French doors that led out onto the balcony.

She walked farther and saw a garden with a tennis court and swimming pool. There was a sundial and a stone fountain and a fishpond filled with neon-colored fish. She heard someone groan and saw a man lying on a chaise longue. He wore navy shorts and a yellow silk shirt and had a paperback book covering his face.

“I don’t think Keats ever imagined his poems would be used as sunscreen,” she said, as she approached the man.

“If you’re from the cleaning service I like keeping my clothes in the bathtub.” The man kept his eyes closed and his hands around a tall glass filled with ice cubes. “I hate having to walk all the way to the closet after taking a shower. I told the service I don’t want another maid. It’s difficult to sit around being drunk and depressed if someone is scrubbing the floors and making your underwear smell like potpourri.”

“I’m not from the cleaning service,” Juliet replied.

“If Paco sent you tell him I’ll have his money next week,” the man muttered. “Though there is a nice Picasso in the library you could take as a trade. It’s only a print but it’s worth a pair of Zegna loafers.”

“Not from Paco’s either.” Juliet smiled, enjoying the game. She glanced at the view and saw the monastery of Valldemossa and the stone farmhouses of Deia. She saw high white clouds and the sea shimmering like a sheet of diamonds.

“Well if Manuel sent you tell him I was going to come down today and pay for the fucking cigarettes,” the man grumbled. “You’d think a man’s credit would stretch to a pack of Marlboros and a king-sized Cadbury Fruit & Nut bar.”

“I’m Juliet Lyman, senior executive at Yesterday Records.” Juliet moved closer so her shadow blocked the sun. “You must be Lionel Harding.”

Lionel removed the book and sat up. He put his drink on the glass side table and smoothed his hair. He studied Juliet’s glossy brown bob and blue eyes and tan legs and whistled.

“I knew Gideon would send a henchman sooner or later, but I didn’t think she’d be a brunette wearing a J. Crew Theory dress and Dior perfume.”

“How do you know my perfume is Dior?” Juliet demanded.

“I write love songs, I have to notice the details.” Lionel reached for his drink. “I can describe everything about a woman: her thick dark lashes, her small pink mouth, the heart-shaped mole on her neck.” He took a long sip. “Tell Gideon I haven’t turned in my expense report in months because I know he doesn’t approve of aged scotch and Cuban cigars. Who would have thought the owner of one of the most famous record labels would turn into an old prude? The last time I saw him he was eating stewed prunes and reading The Economist. I told him he might as well buy himself a plot at Forest Lawn.”

“He did, he had me pick one out for him and his wife, right next to James Stewart and Elizabeth Taylor.” Juliet nodded. “I’m not here to count the number of towels in the bathroom or limit your consumption of Courvoisier.”

“Then why are you here?” Lionel’s eyes traveled over her blue knit dress and white sandals. “If Gideon thought I needed entertainment, I have a stack of Spanish Playboys.”

Juliet felt her cheeks turn pink. “I’m here because you’re six months late with your songs and Gideon said if he doesn’t get them by the end of the month you owe him your advance.” She opened her red Coach purse and took out her phone. She flicked through the screens and looked at Lionel. “One hundred and sixty-six thousand dollars and sixty three cents plus the nine thousand dollars he sent to your tailor in London and the fifteen hundred dollars he paid for your mother’s eightieth birthday present.”

“A man can still appreciate a Gieves &Hawkes single-breasted suit when he’s depressed,” Lionel snorted. “And how often does a woman turn eighty? Mom fell in love with a diamond-and-sapphire Harry Winston necklace when we flew to Barcelona. Airlines deliberately delay their flights so you hang out in the duty free stores,” Lionel sighed. “I always end up with an extra bottle of cognac or a carton of Toblerone chocolate.”

“They call it an advance because they give it to you before you do the work.” Juliet shielded her eyes from the sun. “But if you don’t write the songs you have to give it back.” She slipped her phone in her purse. “You’ve had eighteen months to complete twenty-four songs and you sent Gideon a haiku and a limerick.”

“I was experimenting with different forms.” Lionel pouted. “You don’t think the Romantics changed the course of English poetry by copying Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott? Have you ever listened to Jimi Hendrix? He was called the “warrior poet” because his lyrics touched your soul. Do you know how much time he spent sitting on a beach? Those words didn’t come to him overnight.” He slipped his sunglasses over his nose. He had dark wavy hair and bright green eyes and a small cleft on his chin. “I might be forty-two but unlike Gideon I still think like a young man, and the young constantly reinvent things. Not all love songs have to sound like Simon and Garfunkel on a constant loop in the elevator.”

“Your songs are on the constant loop in the elevator.” Juliet followed him into the villa. She saw a wide kitchen with stone floors and a low-beamed ceiling. There was a large silver refrigerator and open cabinets filled with ceramic bowls and white china cups. The counters were littered with half eaten chocolate bars and a basket of tomatoes and a wilted fruit salad. “‘Going to Catalina’ is the third most recorded song in history, behind ‘The Girl from Ipanema.’ It won three Grammys when it was released in 1996 and went on to sell two million copies.”

Lionel opened the fridge and took out a bottle of Grey Goose. He filled two glasses with ice and added vodka and a squeeze of lime. He handed one to Juliet and raised his glass.

“Well that deserves a toast.” He drained his glass and set it on the tile counter. “All this talk about money makes me hungry. Why don’t we save the threats until after lunch?”

“If I return to Los Angeles without a check for one hundred sixty-six thousand dollars or an album of new songs I won’t have a job,” Juliet protested. “They better be on a laptop waiting to press SEND, or in a manila folder ready for me to transport through customs.”

“If you’re a senior executive at Yesterday Records how come we haven’t met?” Lionel opened the breadbox and took out four slices of bread. He spread them with mustard and sliced ham and Gruyère cheese. He added heirloom tomatoes and red onions and handed a plate to Juliet.

“I’ve only been at the label for ten months.” Juliet bit into the sandwich. “I graduated from NYU and spent the last six years at Sony Records in Manhattan.”

“Did Gideon lure you to Los Angeles with the promise of a silver convertible and your own miniature palm tree and a table at Wolfgang Puck’s next to Tobey Maguire?”

“He convinced me to switch labels so I could work with Anson Smith and Juju Miles and some of the most progressive artists in the music business.”

“Instead he sent you to Majorca to babysit an aging songwriter.” Lionel dribbled tomato on his chin. “It could be worse, I could have accepted Richard Branson’s offer and stayed at his hut on the Galapagos Islands. I heard the fresh sea bass is divine but you have to use an outhouse. At least Sir Bob’s villa has a billiard table and a wine cellar stocked with Château Rothschild Burgundy.”

“This is Bob Geldof’s villa?” Juliet spluttered, wiping her mouth with a checkered napkin.

“I think Bob offered it to me.” Lionel rubbed his forehead. “It could have been Phil Collins, we were all skiing in Gstaad and I’ve never been good at high altitudes. The thin air makes me forget things. Phil does have a lovely place in Montreux; I stayed there years ago. It’s a pity his marriage ended, Orienne made the best chocolate fondue.”

“I thought you rented this villa,” Juliet frowned.

Lionel ate a last bite of his sandwich and laughed. “I couldn’t afford the gold faucet in the guest bathroom. I have creditors in four languages: I owe Luis in Lisbon for two boxes of Cuban cigars and Sven in Copenhagen for a sterling silver Georg Jensen lighter and Riccardo in Milan for three pairs of Bruno Magli suede loafers. Not to mention my monthly order from Harrods of five jars of marmite and six packets of caramel toffees. The price of shipping these days is criminal.”

“It’s so beautiful here.” Juliet gazed out the window at window boxes filled with hydrangeas and hibiscus. “I would think Majorca is the perfect place to write love songs.”

“Now you’re trying to lull me into doing what you want.” Lionel took his drink and walked into the living room. He sat on a floral sofa and spread his long legs in front of him. “What if I told you Gideon did something so terrible, that if I wasn’t the kind of guy who couldn’t pick up a fly swatter, I would sue him for everything he had.”

“I wouldn’t believe you; he’s one of the most philanthropic men I’ve met.” Juliet removed a stack of crumpled newspapers from a red-and-white-striped love seat. “He donates thousands to charity: water to build wells in Africa and purchased computers for an entire village in Peru and gives ten percent of the label’s profits to Save the Ocean Foundation.”

“I’m sure even Benedict Arnold did a few good deeds and Judas had a whole group of friends.” Lionel tapped a cigarette from a gold cigarette case. He lit it slowly and blew a thin trail of smoke. “I’ll make a deal, I’ll tell you the whole story, and if you think he still deserves one hundred sixty-six thousand dollars, I will find a way to pay him back.”

Juliet glanced at the plaster walls lined with Picassos and Manets and Cézannes. She saw the French doors and pink marble fireplace and tall wooden bookshelves. She didn’t have time to sit around watching Lionel smoke cigarettes and drink dry martinis, Gideon expected her to return with an album of new songs.

“Gideon doesn’t want the money.” She shifted on the silk love seat. “He wants you to write music.”

“He should have thought of that before he picked up an iron tong and drove it though my heart.” Lionel got up and walked to the entry. He stubbed his cigarette on the stone floor and opened the door. “Take the offer or leave it. I’ve got an appointment with a bottle of vodka and a copy of The Picture of Dorian Gray.” He turned and glanced at Juliet. “Look, all I’ve got left to my name is a two-bedroom flat in Chelsea. If you don’t agree after you’ve heard the story, I’ll sell it and give Gideon the proceeds.”

Juliet stood up and dusted her skirt. She walked to the door and held out her hand. “All right, you have a deal.”

“I knew you’d come round.” Lionel’s face broke into a smile. “No one can resist a juicy story, plus I make an excellent Spanish omelet. We’ll start tomorrow, don’t come before noon, I need my beauty sleep.” He drew another cigarette out of the gold case.

“Oh and tell Gideon to extend your reservation for two weeks, and make sure your room has a private bath. I’ve stayed in Spanish bed-and-breakfasts and you don’t want to listen to your neighbor singing Carmen in the shower.”

“Two weeks!” Juliet exclaimed. “What did Gideon do?”

Lionel leaned on the door and his whole body sagged. His forehead was suddenly lined and his green eyes dimmed. He looked at Juliet and frowned.

“He rewrote my whole past.”

*   *   *

Juliet climbed the steps of the Hotel Salvia and opened the red gate. She loved the three-story stone building with its black shutters and wrought iron balconies and peaked slate roof. She loved the lush gardens filled with green trellises and citrus trees and beds of pink azaleas. And she loved the location perched just above the main square of Sóller so she could browse in the elegant boutiques and eat tapas at the outdoor cafés.

Mostly she loved that everywhere she turned she saw the mountains and deep valleys and the horseshoe-shaped bay of Puerto de Sóller. She gazed at the turquoise swimming pool and tall pine trees and thought she had never been anywhere so beautiful.

She opened the front door of the hotel and entered the drawing room and admired the thick oriental rugs, antique chandeliers, and striped silk sofas. She glanced at the maple sideboard set with a crystal water pitcher and ceramic fruit bowl and felt like she was in a private home.

“Good afternoon Miss Lyman.” The concierge looked up from his notes. “Did you find the Casa Rosa?”

“Yes, thank you.” Juliet inhaled the sweet smelling air and her shoulders relaxed. “It’s not far from here and the scenery was spectacular. I don’t know how one gets anywhere in Majorca; I kept having to stop and admire the view.”

“The Casa Rosa is one of the finest private estates on this side of the island,” the man replied. “Would you like to make dinner reservations tonight? Chef Pedro is making baked saddle of lamb with olive crust and a rosemary sauce. You and your gentleman friend will enjoy your private terrace, the tables are set with silver candelabras and bottles of Mallorcan olive oil.”

“I don’t have a gentleman friend.” Juliet blushed. “I’m here alone.”

“But you said you were visiting a gentleman at the Casa Rosa.” The concierge frowned.

“Lionel Harding is a business associate,” Juliet explained. “I’m too tired to eat out tonight, perhaps I could get a sandwich and a glass of milk in my room.”

“Everyone dines outside in Majorca in the summer,” the concierge insisted. “Even the fishermen pull up their nets and have a cold beer and a plate of fresh oysters. There’s plenty of time to stay inside during winter when the wind is icy and the valley is covered in fog.”

“I won’t be here that long.” Juliet smiled. “Though I’d like to extend my reservation two weeks, I’m afraid my business is going to take longer than I thought.”

“All the more reason to enjoy the nightlife.” The concierge flicked through his book. “The music is lively and there is always dancing on the square after midnight.”

Juliet pictured women wearing oversized sunglasses and bright chiffon dresses and strapless sandals. She saw men in sports coats and linen slacks and suede loafers. She imagined sitting alone at a table while couples held hands and sipped glasses of full-bodied Spanish wine. She imagined soft music and the scent of butter and garlic mixed with French perfume.

“I’m going to take a long bath and climb into bed.” She walked toward the staircase. “Perhaps another night.”

“Miss Lyman,” he called after her. “May I ask what line of business are you in?”

“I’m in the music industry.” Juliet turned around. “I’m an executive at a record label.”

The concierge studied her smooth brown hair and blue eyes and small pink mouth. He saw her knit dress and long legs and white sandals. “Perhaps you should think about changing careers, a beautiful young woman should not be alone in Majorca on a Saturday night.”

*   *   *

Juliet climbed the three flights of stairs and fumbled with her key. Gideon had booked a queen-sized room with her own balcony. Juliet gazed at the orange wool rug and turquoise walls and sloped ceiling. She saw the four-poster bed and mahogany desk and high-backed velvet chair.

She slipped off her sandals and placed her purse on the oak end table. Lionel might be prickly and abrasive but she was glad Gideon insisted she come to Majorca. The countryside was spectacular and the food was delicious and everything seemed to move slowly. She pictured the orange tram that took tourists to Puerto de Sóller and the sailboats with their billowing sails and a warmth spread through her chest.

She walked to the balcony and remembered the concierge thinking she had a boyfriend. She flashed on when she graduated from NYU and got her first interview at Sony. She’d worn a new navy wool suit and beige pumps. She remembered sitting across from Jane Backman and trying to stop her heart from racing.

*   *   *

“You’re twenty-two and graduated summa cum laude from NYU.” Jane glanced at her résumé. “You could get an entry level position at an investment banking firm with an expense account and a summer timeshare in the Hamptons. If you take this job, you’ll be stuck for years with a mid-five-figure salary and a railroad apartment in Bushwick.”

“My father is a linguistics professor at Sarah Lawrence and my mother writes for The New Yorker. When I was young I wanted to be a poet.” Juliet fiddled with her silver necklace. “But when I was twelve I got my first Ipod and realized words were too quiet. Music makes me feel alive and excited.”

“Let me tell you about a career in the music industry.” Jane leaned back in her chair. She had straight blond hair and brown eyes and a wide mouth. She wore a purple Alice and Olivia dress and platform shoes. “You’ll spend your days in recording studios drinking vending machine coffee and eating Chinese fortune cookies. Your skin will never see the sun so no matter how much Lancôme revitalizing cream you lather on, you’ll always look like a figure in a Henry James novel or one of those deathly pale models in a Robert Palmer music video.

“While your friends are meeting hedge fund managers at the Monkey Bar after work, you’ll be backstage at the Brooklyn Bowl fending off pre-teen girls wearing sparkly sneakers. You’ll spend weekends riding on a tour bus surrounded by smelly socks and dirty magazines.

“You’ll never meet a guy who can discuss French literature or applied physics because most musicians stop learning in the seventh grade. And you’ll turn thirty-five and realize you’re eggs are getting stale and the lines on your forehead are deeper and your friends are getting bugaboo strollers for Christmas.” She paused and looked at Juliet. “Do you still want to work for a record label?”

Juliet glanced at the platinum records and silver album covers and bookshelves lined with Grammys. She smoothed her hair and smiled.

“There’s nothing else I want to do.”

“I should make you walk out that door and think about applying to business school or law school. But I know if music flows through your veins there’s nothing you can do about it.” Jane held out her hand. “Welcome to Sony.”

*   *   *

Juliet wrapped her arms around her chest and remembered the last proper date she had, with an entertainment lawyer she met at a Coldplay concert. He had curly blond hair and brown eyes and liked The Foo Fighters and Imagine Dragons. He invited her to go ice-skating at Rockefeller Center and they drank Irish coffees and talked about the music industry’s crazy hours and demanding artists.

Juliet listened to the excitement in his voice when he talked about Billboard charts and foreign sales and thought Jane was wrong. But then he had to go to Tokyo to babysit a client who took too many Ambien, and by the time he returned, Juliet was on a tour bus to Philadelphia. After three weeks of voice messages and texts they admitted it probably wouldn’t work.

That had been almost two years ago and since then Juliet immersed herself in her job. She loved the strange pit in her stomach when she knew a song was going to work. And she loved the buzz of standing backstage at Madison Square Garden and watching fifty thousand fans wave their arms. Music was like discovering an unknown Rembrandt or owning a vintage Valentino dress or eating the finest gourmet chocolate.

*   *   *

She leaned over the balcony and heard the sounds of laughter and music. Majorca was filled with young people from Australia and New Zealand and Scandinavia. She had two weeks and nothing to do but listen to Lionel’s story. Maybe she would finally meet a guy who loved homemade soup and the farmer’s market and watching Italian movies on Netflix.

Suddenly she didn’t want to soak in the porcelain bathtub listening to Spotify on her iPhone. She was going to an outdoor café and eat tomato confit with Mallorcan cheeses. She was going to inhale the sweet night air and watch the streetlamps dancing on the cobblestones.

She walked inside and stood in front of her closet. She selected a floral dress and silver sandals. She rubbed her lips with red lipstick and dusted her cheeks with powder. She grabbed her purse and hurried down the staircase.

*   *   *

Juliet walked along the promenade and gazed at the lights reflecting on the water. She saw ice cream stores with neon signs and souvenir shops with racks of glossy postcards. She felt the evening air settle on her shoulders and suddenly wished she were back in her hotel room, sipping a cup of hot tea with milk and honey.

She had decided to take the tram to Puerto de Sóller and have dinner at one of the harbor-side restaurants. It had been exciting to board the tram with tourists speaking German and French and Italian. It had been lovely to feel the wind in her hair and inhale the scent of citrus and jasmine. And it was wonderful to arrive at the port and see the sparkling Mediterranean.

But now she saw couples holding hands and stopping to study the menus. She saw families with young children, carrying sand buckets and shovels. She glanced in the windows of sleek restaurants and saw tables set with delicate champagne flutes and flickering candles. She inhaled the damp sea air and felt suddenly alone.

She was about to turn back to the tram stop when she saw a tall house with a wide stone porch and lush gardens. It had blue shutters and window boxes filled with peonies and daisies. The front door was open and she heard a violin playing and smelled butter and tomatoes and garlic.

She climbed the stone steps and entered a foyer with lacquered walls and polished wood floors. There was a dining room with high ceilings and gilt picture frames. The tables were set with royal blue china and gleaming silverware.

“Can I help you?” a young woman asked. She wore a navy dress and ivory pumps. Her dark hair was knotted into a low bun and she wore pale pink lip-gloss.

“The concierge at my hotel gave me the address of Casa Isabella, but there’s no sign.” Juliet frowned. “The front door was open and something smelled delicious.”

“That’s the grilled suckling pig with lemon confit,” the woman replied. “My father doesn’t believe in advertising, he likes to imagine our patrons are casual acquaintances invited over for dinner. He prepares one five-course meal and the menu changes daily.” She consulted the leather-bound reservation book. “Unfortunately we’re booked every weekend from May until October.”

“I’ll try another night.” Juliet sighed, suddenly realizing she was starving. She hadn’t eaten anything except half a sandwich with Lionel. She glanced at the marble fireplace and tall bookshelves and wanted desperately to sit at a table and have a glass of Roija Cabernet and a plate of seafood linguini.

“Antonio Banderas reserves the same table every Saturday night and never arrives before nine P.M.” The young woman smiled. “If you promise not to linger over the chocolate fondant, I can squeeze you in.”

“That would be wonderful,” Juliet exclaimed, following her to a table by the window. “What a beautiful room, it’s like a private home.”

“My grandfather was a wealthy citrus trader.” She handed Juliet a menu. “He loved my grandmother so much he hated being away at sea. He built a house on the promenade so he could see her standing on the balcony when he sailed into the harbor.”

Juliet nodded. “That’s so romantic.”

“Unfortunately his ship sunk and he lost all his money. The only way to keep Casa Isabella was to turn the downstairs into a restaurant,” she explained. “After my grandparents died, my parents took over. My mother is the maître d’ and my brothers catch the fish and my father runs the kitchen. My mother loves flitting around the dining room; she thinks every night is a party. But my father would rather be upstairs in his study reading a book on medieval history.”

“Why doesn’t he hire another chef?” Juliet asked.

“In Majorca everything is about family.” The woman straightened Juliet’s silverware. “No one else would care as much that the monkfish is perfectly sautéed or the lettuce is fresh from the garden or the tomatoes are sliced so thinly they melt in your mouth. My father grumbles but he doesn’t let anything leave his kitchen unless it would be fit for the prince and princess of Spain.”

Juliet ate cold tomato soup and watched the young woman fill breadbaskets and smooth linen napkins. She listened to the violin playing in the garden and suddenly felt warm and happy. She was in one of the most beautiful spots in the world, eating a salad of feta cheese and red peppers and scallions.

She thought about Lionel and wondered how he could be depressed surrounded by so much beauty. She pictured his living room with its grand piano and French doors and floral sofas. She saw the garden filled with birds of paradise and dahlias. She pictured Gideon with his salt-and-pepper hair and patterned shirts and shuddered. He had made it clear that if Juliet didn’t return with a packet of Lionel’s songs her job was in jeopardy.

*   *   *

Juliet finished the last bite of almond cake and blotted her mouth with a napkin. It had all been delicious: the Sóller prawns cooked in sea salt and olive oil, the salmon in a marsala sauce with baby carrots, the selection of fruits and local cheeses. She glanced around the room, wishing to thank the young woman but she had disappeared and been replaced by an older woman with dark wavy hair and green eyes.

Juliet walked through the foyer to search for a powder room and heard a woman singing. She listened closer and remembered when she was young and discovered her mother’s Carly Simon album. She remembered listening to Carly’s bright, clear voice and feeling her lungs expand and her heart race.

She gingerly opened a door and saw the young woman standing at a double sink. She wore a white apron over her navy dress and her hands were covered in soap. She glanced up at Juliet and her cheeks flushed.

“I wanted to thank you for a lovely dinner.” Juliet hesitated. “The grilled salmon was delicious.”

“My father will be pleased.” She beamed. “He refuses to serve fish that wasn’t caught the same day, he says you should be able to taste the ocean.”

“You have a beautiful voice.” Juliet entered the kitchen. The counters were stacked with silver trays and square white plates. Brass pots hung from the ceiling and a planter box held round red tomatoes.

She shrugged. “I’ve always sung, it helps pass the time when you’re peeling potatoes or slicing mushrooms. My brothers used to stuff their ears with cotton wool and I’d get back at them by hiding their soccer ball.”

“Have you ever considered singing professionally?” Juliet asked.

“When my mother was young she wanted to be a dancer, she spent hours practicing arabesques in the garden.” She untied her apron. “She ran off to Paris when she was nineteen and performed at the Moulin Rouge. She lasted eight months and returned to Majorca and married my father.”

“I’m sure she would have been a success if she had continued,” Juliet murmured.

“Men sent her flowers and perfume and waited outside her dressing room.” She wiped her hands. “She had three marriage proposals and a jewelry box full of gold necklaces and earrings. She drank champagne and ate caviar at smoky cafés and realized there was nowhere she’d rather be than Majorca.”

“I don’t understand.” Juliet frowned.

“Why would I want to sing professionally when I have everything I need right here?” she asked. “A beautiful house and a wonderful family and the Mediterranean outside my front door?” She stopped and held out her hand. “My name is Gabriella, please come back another night. You have to try my father’s seafood risotto, it’s the best on the island.”

*   *   *

Juliet opened the door to her room and slipped off her sandals. She unzipped her dress and pulled a cotton robe around her shoulders. She climbed into bed and thought about her meeting tomorrow with Lionel. Whatever Gideon had done, she had to convince Lionel to write some new songs.

She closed her eyes and pictured the Casa Isabella. She remembered the dining room with its round tables and high ceilings and marble fireplace. She saw Gabriella standing at the double sink with an apron tied around her waist. She remembered her high, clear voice and a tingle ran down her spine.

Copyright © 2016 by Anita Hughes