August 2nd, 7:15PM
Portofino Central square, Bar Gelateria Il Molo

Or maybe all you mean, is leave me alone
At least that's what you said

(Wilco)


Charlene, slightly hating herself for it, could not divert her eyes from the whole yacht's docking maneuver.

"I wonder whose yacht. Why don't we take a guess?" Cecilia was absorbed by the dynamic of it even more than Charlene, if possible. "I'll go for old Russian billionaire geezer."

Charlene formed an irritated smirk on her face.

"Nah. Too small for a Russian billionaire," she commented. "Look, there's not even an heliport."

"Yup - that's what I call poverty," Cece remarked, sipping at her daiquiri. She looked like she was in front of a movie screen, and she had clearly mistaken her cocktail glass for popcorn.

By the time the maneuvers were completed and she could finally catch glimpses of the figures descending from the yacht – two girls, a young man dismissing the crew and looking at the clock - only finely crushed ice remained in Cecilia's glass, and she was nervously mixing it with the stick.

"Aw, man. You won," Cecilia snapped. "No old geezer."

The loud laughter of one of the girls echoed in the square, a laughter that Charlene found incredibly nauseating. She kept staring at those yacht people. A raven-haired girl dressed in a caftan and laced sandals was photographing a sail boat near the yacht, while a blond girl in a white lace mini-dress – the laughing one – was throwing herself into the young man's arms, her pointless stilettos suspended in mid-air. Snorting, she decided to follow Cecilia's example, gulping her daiquiri as if there was no tomorrow.

Why does this make me feel so uneasy?

The instinct to finish her daiquiri as soon as possible and return to the hotel room they had booked for the night overwhelmed her. She wanted so much to be alone for a while, with no Louis Vuitton or over-sized yachts or rich bitches, just her ebook reader and perhaps a cup of tea.

While the yacht crew scattered from the trio in the square and in the contiguous paths, Rich Boy, Blonde Girl and Brunette Girl seemed to be approaching the exact same bar where she and Cecilia sat. Blondie was gripping at Rich Boy's right arm while on the other side, he was circling his arm around Brunette's neck awhile kissing her temple.

"Oh, God." Charlene almost let her still unfinished glass drop to the table. "What a ridiculous show-off."

"He is kind of hot, though," Cecilia felt the need to point out.

"Bullshit. If you had seen him without the yacht or the girls, you wouldn't even have turned for a second glance."

Charlene knew she was exaggerating a bit, but men like him, no matter how handsome, just disgusted her.

"By the way, I've counted less than ten men among all the ones we've met here in Italy that you didn't classify as 'hot'."

"C'mon, Charlie." Cecilia seemed exasperated. "Maybe it's you who's being too difficult and picky, don't you think?"

"I'm not picky!" Charlene scolded. "I just want to be alone for a while, and I can't see anything strange in that."

For the whole holyday Cecilia had been trying to push Charlene into random men's arms. Some of them would have been actually good enough – at least for a summer flirt – but that was just not her thing.

Not now, that's for sure.

She still was not over her terrible break-up with Ryan. Ryan, who had been her boyfriend for six years, who had admired her so much for her job, who she had believed she was going to spend her whole life with, right up until the moment said job had become too demanding. After an endless series of retaliations and other stunts, and after a month of furious quarrels that no make-up sex could truly set apart, they had finally split up. Charlene had given him back the engagement ring he had given her the year before, and she had found herself alone in the house they had shared for three years. She had not cried, nor consulted any shrink, nor taken antidepressant drugs. She had just thrown herself fully into her career, gaining her last lead as an achievement.

"You are picky." Apparently Cecilia wasn't going to let go of the topic. "That's why I can't explain to myself why the hell after eight months you're still brooding over that ordinary Ryan jerk," she added, as if she had been reading Charlene's mind.

"Ryan was not ordinary. And it's been been six and a half months," Charlene specified immediately.

"See?" A satisfied smile appeared on Cecilia's lips. "That is exactly what I meant."

At that point, Charlene felt she had not other alternative but to shut up.

Maybe she's right, after all.

Charlene saw Rich Boy was really aiming toward their bar, his arm extended in the air unmistakably pointing at the tables on the patio.

Oh, please, no.

She quickly looked around. Thank God, there were no free tables at 'Il molo'.

Two teenagers sitting at a table a few metres from theirs were giggling loudly while eating their ice cream and snapping photos with their mobiles. They were pretending to take shots of each other, but Charlene didn't need her investigating experience to know that it was Rich Boy they were actually trying to frame. Her expectation about being safe thanks to the full bar began to shatter when she saw the man with a marked shirt she had previously identified as the bar owner walking out in the pier and greeting Rich Boy with backslaps and hugs. At this point, even if the men were mostly checking out the two hot chicks, the trio had the attention of every guest of the bar.

Is he famous, or what?

She tried to take a more attentive and analytic look at Rich Boy. Honestly, she had never seen him. From his well-built body, the perfect muscles on the arms sticking out the rolled upcuffs of his shirt and the sporty headband that prevented his messy black hair from falling onto his forehead, she guessed he was an athlete.

Not only rich but also famous, isn't this getting worse?

She made a mental note — Portofino never again. Portofino along with any other stupid VIP-watching involved location.

She turned to the blue crystalline sea down the rocky pier. Their table was one of the farthest from the entrance, yet the relaxed peace of five minutes before was gone, replaced by the greetings, the mumbles coming from the other tables, and last but not least — irritating Blondie's giggle. All this made the place totally undesirable to her.

"Okay, Cece." She examined the daiquiri's remnants in her glass. "Give me a minute to finish this, and we're out of here. I'm growing tired of 'La dolce Vita' already."

"You're so boring sometimes, Charlie." Cece sighed.

And that hurt a bit, because Ryan used to tell her the exact same words.

But, once again, maybe she's right, after all.


"I want to sit at that table!" Mischa cried, pointing her finger across the patio. "That one, the one nearest to the sea."

"It's taken," was Vicky's dry comment as she looked at her almost with compassion.

Dmitry suppressed a smile. The two girls were not really getting along well, and he was not even sure jealousy was the only thing to blame.

"Well, let's see what we can do." Roberto, the bar owner, scratched at his head. "The girls have been sitting there for at least an hour, and they're almost finished with their drinks now." He pondered. "Maybe we could ask them politely to leave in a few minutes if they're not having any other drinks."

Mischa sighed, looking at the clock already.

"You know what. I'll pay for their drinks, whatever they've ordered until now," Dmitry spat out, wanting to end the boring matter as quickly as possible. "Go tell them they're Mr. Sondergaard's guests, as long as they leave the table to us."

"May I take your orders, meanwhile?" A waiter came up beside the bar owner.

"Cosmopolitan for me."

Mischa was the first one to answer. Vicky, on the other hand, seemed unsure; her attention was still diverted to Roberto, now approaching the two girls at the table they wanted.

"Vodka for me. On the rocks," she finally replied.

"I'll have the same as Vicky," Dmitry chose, placing his hand on Vicky's shoulder, just to be sure to let the waiter know who Vicky was between the two of them.

Not that a man could really order a cosmopolitan.

When the waiter disappeared back into the bar, while Roberto was still lingering by the two girls's table, Dmitry, unsure about what to do, started approaching the damn table too, followed by Vicky and Mischa. For the first time he had an actual opportunity to notice the girls. Nothing special, to be honest. The first one had long dark brown hair, with huge blue eyes. She was looking at him in a way that was halfway between owe and embarrassment. The second one was discussing with Roberto, with a voice that sounded all but mild. She had blue eyes, too, but her hair was a messy blond shoulder-length bob. When their gazes finally met, Dmitry believed that the woman was on the verge of jumping at his throat.

Okay now. Surely she doesn't look like one of my fans.

Dmitry adjusted his headband, still looking into her eyes. She didn't look intimidated. She wasn't showing the least intention to finish the scarce leftovers of her cocktail and get up.

Is this supposed to be a challenge, or what?

"Is there a problem, Roberto?" Dmitry addressed his question to the bar owner, who was acting slightly embarrassed, being caught between two fires.

This didn't discourage the blond woman from being the one to answer.

"Yes, actually, I do have a problem." With that, their gazes locked once again. Dmitry gathered she was American by her accent. There was something completely unnerving and cocky about that her.

"The problem is, I was here, by myself, not bothering anyone, and this man comes over," she was now hinting at Roberto "and tells me I should leave because who-knows-gaard-something needs the table."

She paused dramatically, and chuckled, her well-defined lips tensed in a grimace.

At first Dmitry didn't really know how to react to this – he was not accustomed to this kind of resistance. He touched his nose, diverting his gaze just for a moment.

Be polite. Be polite, just try, at least give it a try.

But being polite while re-thinking the gaard-something part was not easy.

"Well, Miss." He spoke directly to her this time. "I don't know if Roberto here has mentioned that to you, but I was going to pay for your cocktails. As an act of kindness."

The blond woman burst into laughter, and glanced at her friend with an exasperated and dazed expression, probably searching for moral support she clearly didn't find; her friend seemed to be begging her to stop instead.

"An act of kindness?" The blonde mimicked Dmitry, still not surrendering. "This is simply ridiculous. You come here and claim you can buy a table in a public place, and you call this an act of kindness."

Maybe being polite isn't the way this time.

The cocaine was contributing to his irritation, arousing in him the urge to smack that woman on her blond challenging pretty face. Hard. Plus, he didn't know how to reply to the accusation.

I was trying to buy the table, wasn't I?

He just failed to see what could possibly be so wrong and insulting in that.

"Mister Sondergaard.. Miss –" Roberto looked expectantly at the blond woman, as if asking her name. He was clearly trying to act as a peacemaker, since all the bar's guests were now watching the scene.

"O'Connor," The woman replied curtly.

"Miss O'Connor." He kept gesturing with his hands in the air. "I am sure we can arrange you another table. If you want to stay for dinner, I'm definitely going to have you as our guest."

"Are you serious?" O'Connor was now starting to raise her voice. "What makes you think I want to stay for dinner in a bar property of a man who has just tried to get me out of my table while my cocktail is still not over?"

This was when Mischa cut in. She snatched the cocktail glass from that O'Connor woman and drank it till the last drop. When she was finished, she wiped her lips with the back of her hand, both to remove the dampness the ice has left and to suppress a laughter.

"See. Now the cocktail is over, you can leave."

"Oh, God."

Dmitry heard Vicky muttering under her breath, looking away almost in embarrassment. But there was a hint of a smile on her lips, too. For a moment, Dmitry was almost hoping this was getting somewhere interesting — like the two girls yelling and fighting and pulling each other's hair while rolling onto the stone of the pier. Because the look in O'Connor eyes was definitely a killer one.

"Charlie."

His hopes were crushed when her brunette friend, suddenly setting apart all of her apparent naivety, set a firm hand on O'Connor's arm.

"Listen to me. You don't want to get involved in this."

O'Connor blondie didn't answer. It seemed she was gathering all her strength not to stand up and punch Mischa in her face.

She wants to get involved.

Dmitry smirked. He was familiar with those raging instincts.

She wants to get involved in this so much.

"Now we're going to stand up, and leave this bar." The brown haired girl continued, standing, trying to make O'Connor follow her example. "Because you really, really, really don't need this. And you know why. Okay?"

"I apologise so much for all this," Roberto shouted at their backs, while they were leaving.

While the brunette did turn back, dismissing him with a tentative smile and a hand gesture, the blonde one didn't.

"So – it has been hard, but we've made it." Dmitry let himself fall back into what had been O'Connor's chair.

Isn't this satisfying?

"I'll bring you another chair immediately, Mr Sondergaard." Roberto's voice relaxed just a bit, most likely relieved that no scandals had taken place at his bar.

Much to Dmitry's surprise, while he was checking out O'Connor's long, toned legs sticking out below those denim shorts getting farther and farther away on the pier, the answer to his previous question — which should have been rhetorical — popped into his mind.

No. He was not satisfied at all.


Charlene realized she was completely drunk only in the very moment Cece's grip at her arm forced her to stand up. The sudden change of position boosted the blood in her veins – she could feel it rushing to her head, clouding her view. She dug her fingernails into her own palm, her eyes reluctant to trail off Blondie who had just completely ruined her day, and off Rich Boy who was occupying her ex-seat already.

Because you really, really, really don't need this.

Cece's words echoed in her mind like a mantra. She had a point, that was for sure. Charlene had just gone through a six-month long anger management class after she had punched a murder suspect, just because he had called her a 'hot chick' during an interrogation. And she had hated that class so much. Her inclination to anger bursts had been in the end the only real obstacle in having a bright, quick career.

After they had gotten far enough from the bar table — and along with it from Blondie, Brunette & Rich Boy — Cecilia finally seemed confident that the worst had passed, and let go of her arm.

Charlene found herself, minus Cece's support, not walking completely steady.

Guess three daiquiri were too many.

Cece turned back again to look at the trio, and Charlene wondered how she managed to do it without being overcome by the instinct to get back and beat the hell out of them. Maybe being specialized in database research as Cece was, and rarely going out in the field to tackle the criminals, had something to do with it.

Charlene didn't have that advantage. Suddenly aware that they were walking past Rich Boy's yacht, so near and huge and damn shiny – she lost all control. Everything came back to her mind at the same exact moment, driven by the alcohol and the blood-shots, like an assault, her cocktail gone because of that slut. The way he'd looked at her as if he were so high above her, he and the damn money he had to pay for cocktails to strangers. The luxurious yacht. And that was not all —all that was just the last five minutes.

Her evenings spent at work came back to her mind. The way she had to fight constantly every single day to gain the trust of her male colleagues, who kept treating her as the newbie even though she was now their leader. The break-up with Ryan. The photo he had recently posted on a social network portraying him with a girl who seemed barely out of high school.

Because you really, really, really don't need this.

Cece was not right. In fact, she was completely wrong. She absolutely needed this. Badly.

With a sudden leap that Cece had no way to block, she stepped onto the unguarded yacht.


AN so tired I can barely write AN tonight. BUT 1. TNX to Savannah Singleton for the editing as always. 2. TNX to all the readers ^^ 3. you like Dmytri? hate him? 4. I don't know who owns bar 'Il molo', Roberto is fictional (do I really need to write this?) 5. Have a nice day you all and I would be grateful to read feedback ^^ L.