Stepping out into the luxuriant plaza was plunging into a study in color. Everywhere in the sun-soaked plaza stood in bright chromatics.
The rich tomato-red of the townhouses arcing around the plaza’s edge, the vivid blue of the cloudless sky,
the saturated turquoise-green of the oxidized copper sculptures of horses in the massive fountain at the plaza’s center,
ringed around the soft ivory marble of the classical Greek nude in the center of the fountain.
This was a place where money lived; where the debutante daughters yearning for independence from their wealthy stockbroker fathers summered,
where rich drug lords took their trophy wives for the warm months, where old-money families traveled to see and be seen, hungry for anything labeled high-society.
Despite this, perhaps because of this, it was no less beautiful. As beautiful a haunt as she had ever haunted before.
She savored the feel of the sun warming her skin after the air-conditioned, rose-scented bubble of her car.
Bags forgotten on the checkered, black-and-white parquet plaza floor that she adored so much, almost flew toward the beach, the ocean visible between a gap in the elegant red buildings.
She barely heard Ana, as she got out of the car behind her, call out to her as she was carried down the wide, regal staircase that sloped gently down to the beach behind the plaza.
She kicked off her shoes and tossed her glasses to the sand, already reaching for the hem of her white t-shirt and tugging it over her head, forgotten even before her feet hit the water.
She fell to her knees in the cool surf as the waves swelled around her, up to her hips.
“Rome!” Ana called from behind her, but she didn’t turn.
Closing her eyes, she whispered, “I’m home.”
“Rome!” Ana called again, lacing her tone with more irritation now. Rome, lush and beautiful as the plaza and the high-profile island it was nestled on, took no notice.
She was a vision of ecstasy, her eyes closed and face turned up to the sun from where she lounged in the shallow waves.
The water, sparkling beyond her in shades of vivid turquoise and cool green, gently rolled in and out while she sat in it.
Ana let her eyes linger on Rome’s smooth back and the delicate bow of her black triangle bikini where it was tied, a sharp contrast with her snowy white hair, swept up in a glossy ponytail.
Ana ground her teeth in irritation. Childish. Foolish. She would not call her again, she resolved.
She turned and stalked up the slender path alongside the stairs, following the same gradual rise, leading right into the patio of one of the row houses just off from the path of stairs.
Throwing herself onto one of the patio’s couches well-shaded under an overhang supposed by columned arches—the last thing she needed was a sunburn,
and she was too fair to risk it—she summoned the maid for a drink and waited out Rome’s ocean infatuation.