Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Meatball Mistress

Cara Manzoni flees Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, to the Jersey Shore after catching her fiancé cheating with her hairdresser. Problem is she has no clothes, no money, and no place to go. This is not where she thought she’d be at almost thirty years old.
Ryan Garridy is a diehard commitment-phobe, struggling to keep his Italian restaurant afloat. The last thing he wants is a high-maintenance woman in his life. So when Cara runs out on her check and then faints at his feet the next day, he knows she’s trouble with a capital T. It still doesn’t stop him from offering her a job and a place to stay. There’s something feisty and compelling about this woman, and no matter how hard he tries, he just can’t seem to say no to her. Or her Sicilian meatballs.
Since Cara has sworn off men, it’s no big deal that Ryan is sexy and charming—until she decides the only way to stop obsessing over her ex is to obsess over someone new. Ryan makes her forget about her ex a little too well, but falling for him could set her up for a whole new world of hurt. One man, one woman, both wounded by love. Will they be able to overcome their demons and learn to trust again? If the undeniable passion between these two doesn’t keep them together, the mouth-watering food will.
            “About last night … ”
            “No explanations necessary. You’re a man.”
            “So, since I was the only girl there last night, I was the logical choice for your advances.” Cara made her way over to the couch and plopped down. She took out a ripe, plump peach from her bag and polished it with the hem of her shirt.
            “You make it sound like I would have made a pass at any woman, regardless,” he said, stretching his hamstrings.
            She didn’t want to tell him that as far as womanizing went, he gave Italian men a run for their money. “Look, you can kiss, screw, screw over as many women as you’d like. It’s none of my business.”
            Ryan stopped stretching. “I don’t screw over women.”
            Cara took a bite of the peach and savored its sweet juice.
            “I’m upfront and honest with women. Always.”
            She continued to eat her peach.
            “I can’t help it if you women always want more.”
            She stopped in mid-bite. “You mean, more than a one-night stand? More than just a roll in the hay? Excuse us for having some morals and values.”
            “Why can’t women be content with just dating? Why does it always have to go somewhere? And then when it doesn’t, I’m the asshole.”
            “Try dating one woman at a time, instead of treating us like rides at a fair. You’re on one and then as soon as you get off, you want to immediately ride another.”
            “As long as I’m not married, why can’t I date more than one woman at a time as long as I’m upfront about it?” He reached behind to stretch his broad shoulders.
            Cara’s teeth clenched in anger. “You’re exactly the kind of man I despise!”
            “You mean the kind who’s putting you up for free?”
            “You’re going to throw that in my face because you feel guilty for treating women like cattle?”
            “Cattle? I don’t treat women like cattle. All of them know the rules from the beginning. I tell them I don’t want anything serious, and they agree. ‘Oh no, me neither,’ they always say, and then inevitably down the line, they change the rules. Why?”
            She felt sorry for every single one of this callous jerk’s past and future girlfriends. “God forbid they start liking you too much, Ryan. What a character flaw on their part.”
            He shrugged. “Nothing wrong with liking a person. Love’s a whole different story. That’s what screws everything up.”
            She stared at him for a long moment, considering the truth in his statement. How had he become so bitter about relationships? He even had her beat in that department. “Not everyone has such a tight rein on their emotions as you do. I’m sorry you think women are weak and pathetic creatures.”
            “I didn’t say women were weak and pathetic; you just complicate everything.” He crossed in front of Cara and headed to the bathroom. “I’m jumping in the shower.”
            She had finished her peach and was now sucking on the pit. “It’s a wonder we’ve managed to evolve as a species. The differences between men and women are mind-boggling.”
            “Life was much simpler back in the Stone Age,” he said before shutting the bathroom door.
            “You mean when you clubbed a woman and dragged her back to your cave?” Cara shouted at the closed door.
            Ryan opened the door and peeked out. “I meant before women learned how to speak,” he said, slamming the door before she could throw something at him.
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