The Titan World authors all wrote additional scenes for their Titan World books, the idea being to send their characters on a picnic. It was supposed to be short…a few paragraphs at most. Bawhahahahaha. Here's to me not following directions. 😉
They strolled down cobblestone sidewalk of the narrow avenue, Jordan’s arm draped loosely around her shoulders. “Where are we headed now?”
“The Spanish Steps.”
“Why are we going there?”
She smiled up at him. “They’re pretty.”
He grinned back her. “Good enough.” The separated to walk around a small group of children walking toward them. “What do you want to do for lunch?” he asked, taking her hand this time. “You want to stop at one of these restaurants on the way?”
“Um…how about a picnic instead?” She swung their hands a little and twisted toward him on the ball of her foot while they walked.
“What kind of picnic? I didn’t exactly pack a basket.”
“We don’t need a basket. We can get some fresh bread and goat cheese. Maybe some fruit and some salami to go with it?” She realized her mistake almost immediately. Wait for it…
“What’s wrong with my salami?”
“I knew, as soon as the word left my mouth, you were going to make a ‘hide the salami’ joke.”
Jordan stopped and pulled her into his embrace. “I don’t joke about hiding my salami.” His fingers threaded into her hair at the base of her skull. His kiss was scorching and in only seconds, she wanted him to take her somewhere so they could play hide the salami.
He broke the kiss. “Picnic?”
“Picnic.” She was only a little breathless, but if felt like a constant state of being lately.
“Where are we going to eat?” He released her and pulled her close again, tucking her close to his side.
“If I remember correctly, there’s a huge park at the top of the Spanish Steps. We can wander up that way and find a spot.”
“Sounds like a plan.” He kissed her temple and led her across the street to the small corner grocery.
Emme selected some grapes and strawberries, watching through her lashes as Jordan perused the small selection of lunch meats. He held up a long, thin salami and wagged his eyebrows. She pressed her lips together and shook her head at him.
Her whole being sighed. Being here with him in Rome made everything else feel as if it had happened to a different person. It was so hard to believe a few short weeks ago, she’d been living in absolute hell and now, here she was with the man she’d dreamed about as a little girl. It was so much better than her childish fantasies.
She joined him in the deli section and picked up a small pack of pre-sliced lunch meat. “Here. That way we don’t have to worry about gnawing on it since we don’t have a knife to cut it with.” He opened his mouth and she put her hand in front of his face. “Shush!”
He grabbed her hand and kissed the palm before bringing it down to his side. He paid for the food and wine and they continued their stroll to the Spanish Steps. She demanded they stop and take a selfie with the Steps in the background and emailed herself the picture, not knowing what was going to happen to that phone once they returned to the real world.
Even walking up the Steps slowly, she felt a little out of breath when they reached the top. Jordan made her breathless, but every now and then she was reminded she wasn’t one-hundred percent recovered from her injuries. She used the view of the piazza as an excuse to stop at the top and rest.
“Can you imagine living there?” She pointed to the small apartment building directly across from the Steps. “Looking out your window every morning and seeing the Spanish Steps? Oh. Hey. Look. The Spanish Steps. Lovely. Beautiful. Gotta get ready for work now.”
“I’d be more annoyed by all the people and the noise.”
She scrunched her nose. “There is that. Still, I think it would be awesome.”
“You get your breath back?” he asked.
“I was hoping you wouldn’t catch on to that.”
He kissed the side of her head and squeezed her close. “I was paying attention.”
Swoon. If she were a fanciful person, she’d be imagining little Italian cherubs flying over their heads while showering them with hearts and flowers. Unfortunately, her feet were planted firmly in the real world.
“Where to?” he asked, shifting the bag of food from one hand to the other.
She pulled up the map app on the phone and found the easiest route to the park. “That way.” She pointed to the left of the church.
“Lead the way.” He took her hand once again and they followed the road, bordered by a large wall, until they found a gateway that led to the other side and the park. The paths were wide and filled with tourists and locals alike.
Emme stopped in front of a sign post with an arrow pointing to the left. “What do you think Tempio de Esculapio is?”
Jordan shrugged. “Some kind of temple?”
She rolled her eyes at him, but he just grinned at her. “Should we head there?” she asked.
“Sure. Let’s check it out.”
The silence between them was easy and relaxing. She didn’t feel the need to constantly talk about things. When they did talk about things, it never felt forced. It was so easy being with him.
The path led them to a small pond and followed the perimeter of it. Directly across the pond from where they were stood a small, white temple.
“Not to state the obvious, but it’s a temple,” Jordan said.
“You don’t say?”
“It’s cute. Like a really ornate gazeebo. Too bad there’s a fence around the pond.”
“Yeah.” She looked both ways down the path. “It looks like there’s more shade off to the right.”
“To the right it is.”
A few yards down the path, they found a grassy spot under a large tree that still gave them a view of the temple.
“Why Rome?” Jordan asked, after they had spread the food out between them.
Emme tore off a piece of bread. “Promise not to laugh?”
“No.” He popped a grape in his mouth and chewed while he smirked at her.
She stuck her tongue out at him. “I’ve always wanted to visit, but after reading Dan Brown’s book Angels and Demons and I wanted to see all the obscure sites that were mentioned in the book.”
His brows furrowed. “Like what?”
“That church we went to this morning? One of the chapels was mentioned in the book.” She spread some goat cheese on another piece of bread and took a bite, savoring the sharp tanginess.
“Ah, I was wondering why you picked that one instead of one of the other thirty-thousand churches in the city.”
She smiled. “There are a lot of churches, but that’s why.”
“What are you looking forward to seeing the most?”
“The Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter’s. What about you?”
He reached across their picnic and ran his thumb across her bottom lip, placing slight pressure on the back of her neck, and pulling her forward. His lips were soft, yet firm at the same time. He kept the kiss short. “I’m just here for the company.”