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.
Table for two. Diet sodas. Lechón kawali and mango tofu salad—no pork, no shrimp. Ah… a meat eater and a vegetarian. Maybe they’ll take kangkong (water spinach) tofu, hold the chorizo (pork sausage) bits.
“How about this one?” I point at the slip.
“Genie’s table. You deal with it.”
I note the location. Kare-kare room table fifteen. They have to understand. Mr. Dee’s an old man. He gets a plate of lechón kawali every week. It’s the highlight of his existence. I can’t let two fru fru chicks hop over him because they want to “experience” lechón and waste most of it.
I corral Genie as she sashays to the soda fountain to refill her ice tea pitcher.
“You’re looking so pretty today.” I kiss her and smooth a curl over her forehead.
“What do you want?” She rolls her big, green eyes—another one of her recessive gene expressions.
“Table fifteen. Are they girls on a diet? Can I cadge the lechón for Mr. Dee? You know Mr. Dee, don’t you?”
“The geezer with the magnifier glasses and old golf cap?”
“Well, that’s one way to describe him, but he’s my friend and he kind of gets off on the lechón.”
“Ha, ha. Guess you always liked older men.” She smirks. “Sure, ask table fifteen yourself.”
“Thanks.” I press my black barong, female style mind you, over my black jeans and stride to the kare-kare room, table fifteen.
Ding dong! It’s Romeo and the blonde, screen name Mildred Venables. The only problem, she’s dolled up and looking nothing like a math nerd at UC San Diego, and he’s, well, he’s as smooth and spiff as any Pinoy actor has a right to be.
Too late. They see me. Romeo’s mouth turns down as if I’m exactly the wrong person he wants to see. Which, in a way, I am, because I’m about to pull his lechón. And honey, if you know Filipino men, you don’t pull lechón from a man, especially lechón kawali. Okay, maybe lechón baboy, the entire roast pig, is worth dying for. But lechón kawali, the pan-fried version, at least ranks a fist fight.
Considering the way he’s flaunting No Compute Barbie in front of me, I’ll take the risk.
I press on a saccharine no-sugar, all-Splenda smile.
“Hello, your server is temporarily serving other customers. Is there something I can get you?” Tapioca balls up your nose, a longanisa sausage up your ahem, buko in your brain.
“Oh, we’re fine. Thanks.” Romeo clears his throat several times. “Evangeline, I’m not sure you’ve met Doris.”
Doris, as in Day? I raise an eyebrow. “Hello, nice to meet you. Has the binomial expansion factored into your universe yet?”
Doris gives me the Klingon stink eye. “What happened to your ice machine? My water’s lukewarm.”
Try holding it between your legs if you want it fugly cold. I take her water. “Let me get you another glass. By the way, there’s a slight problem with your order.”
“Oh, really?” Doris turns to Romeo. “I told you I wanted to go somewhere else.”
He blanches, if that’s possible for a deliciously tan man to do. “Let’s hear what the waitress has to say before you go ballistic.”
Yeah, like Klingon ballistic. I slide a sticky caramelized smile her direction, courtesy of the waitress.
“Actually, it’s the deep fried fatty pork belly. I’m afraid we’re out of it.”
“Oh, wonderful,” Doris chips in before Romeo can answer. “I would have been utterly disgusted watching you eat that dirty pig.”
She turns to me, the waitress. “Can you recommend a replacement? Something vegan?”
“Actually yes, may I suggest the mixed greens, water spinach, Chinese broccoli, straw mushrooms, with tofu? We’ll remove the spicy sausage garnish and dried shrimp paste, of course.”
Doris clasps her hands. “That will be perfect.”
I hardly dare to glance at Romeo. I can feel the waves of murderous hatred oozing from his pores. Instead, I take Doris’ water glass to the ice machine and fill it.
Genie reappears at my side with the iced tea pitcher.
“Everything’s taken care of,” I tell her. “They’ll take the vegetable delight, hold the sausage and shrimp paste.” I hand her the glass of ice. “For Bleachy Blonde.”
Genie narrows her eyes. “I’m going to slip lard into her food.”
“Do it, it’ll make her come back for more. Good for business.”
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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