Evie Sanchez is recovering from heartbreak by working at her parents’ Filipino restaurant when in walks Romeo Garcia, the boy she left behind. Only now, he’s a hot movie star surrounded by gorgeous actresses and adoring fans.
Bad boy Romeo Garcia never understood why Evie stood him up at the prom. When he rescues her from a flying coconut in the dumpster, he is determined to dig into her heart for the reason. Their mutual attraction and unresolved feelings ignite in a scintillating night of daring sex, and Romeo shows Evie what she’ll miss the rest of her life if she walks away again.
Evie lands a part as Romeo’s co-star and falls into her role, totally in love. He plays his part, too, with his romantic gestures and skillful lovemaking. But is the fantasy real or revenge? Evie and Romeo are about to discover if their buried feelings will explode in pure delight or utter disaster.
[Romeo and Evie are at a party at Barrio XO, Evie’s family’s restaurant]
“Get a room.” She laughs. “Papa’s turning on the karaoke machine. Who wants to go first?”
Carlos wheels the setup out with a dolly and flips open the laptop while Danny and some of the other guys plug in the cords and turn on the flat-screen TV.
“Come on, you lovebirds first,” Choco says, swinging the mic.
“Not me. I’m not drunk enough.” I push the mic toward Romeo who takes it.
He leans in and says in my ear, “Listen carefully to the lyrics.”
“Yay, Romeo’s going first!” Choco yells to be heard.
I jump off Romeo’s lap. He stands and sticks two fingers in his mouth, making a shrill, ear-piercing whistle.
“Romeo, Romeo, Romeo,” everyone’s chanting and waving their hands. He sure knows how to work a crowd.
“Thank you all for coming to this celebration. As you know, the party isn’t over before we have all of you up here singing. First, I’d like to thank Tito Rey and Tita Anna for letting us party hearty at the number one, numero uno, Pilipino restaurant in the world, the fabulous Barrio XO! XO stands for extraordinary, but more than that it is the kisses and hugs, food and friends.”
The place erupts with cheers and foot stomping.
“This first song goes to the woman who is my life.”
“Whoo!” the audience shouts.
“Some of you might think it’s my Nanay, and she is, because she gave me life. But tonight, I want to let the only woman in my heart know how I feel.”
I cover my face with a napkin, not daring to peek at him or anyone else. We’re so different. He’s an attention hog, and I prefer to lurk in the background. At this moment, I’d steal Mr. Dee’s giant golf hat and gladly hide in the dumpster.
A warm, strong hand tugs me. “Evie, come up here so I can sing for you.”
He’s not doing this. Ohh, Emm, Gee. He is. My face boiling, I stare at my feet as Romeo pulls me onto the stage. The lights blind me and I think I see the red dots of video recorders.
Romeo tips my chin so I’m looking into his smoky eyes. If I keep my gaze on him, I’ll relax and not do something stupid, like pee in my pants or trip on my toes.
He turns toward Carlos. “‘Just Tell Me You Love Me’ by England Dan and John Ford Coley.”
Too soon, the soundtrack plays and the lyrics appear on the screen, but Romeo doesn’t look at them. He’s focused on me, as he sings his heart, the years he’s waited, dreaming of me, savoring the memory of our first kiss and whispering through my silence.
The lyrics urge me to tell him I love him. The words are so close to the edge of my tongue, but I can’t say them, because I have to be sure. My eyes become misty and even though I want to tear them away from him, I’m glued to him, tranquilized by his voice, suspended in time. If only I can tell him and know beyond a doubt, I would be his forever.
Rachelle Ayala was a software engineer until she discovered storytelling works better in fiction than real code. She enjoys writing love stories and has always lived in a multi-cultural environment. The tapestry of characters in her books reflect that diversity. She is an active member of online critique group, Critique Circle, and a volunteer for the World Literary Cafe.
Check out her four romantic novels. Michal’s Window is a powerful, emotional journey as lived through the eyes of Princess Michal, King David’s first wife. Broken Build is a story of healing where a man learns to love and trust the woman who destroyed his life. Hidden Under Her Heart is a heartfelt love story combined with controversy over difficult decisions, and Knowing Vera is a suspenseful, cross-cultural romance mixing an unsolved murder, adventure, and hot, steamy love scenes.
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