I landed the assignment to go to Rome, not because I was the best writer on the staff of L. A. Life Magazine, nor because I could speak Italian, because I couldn't. My incredibly important skill was availability. Time was short, Jason was on his honeymoon, Pamela was very pregnant, and no less than three staff members were out with the flu, or so they said. In May, go figure. Or perhaps because no one else was willing to fly 3000 miles on two-days’ notice. Shows what a stunningly bad social life can do for you.
Even so, my boss, Mr. Hardcastle, the first part of whose name should give you an idea of his personality, hesitated before giving his assent long enough to grow mold on my sweaty palms. “You aren't going to mess up again, are you?”
Like I planned to. Like climbing into the window of a strange person’s hotel room on my previous assignment for the magazine had been a well-thought-out decision. In truth, it was nothing but a fluke, the unavoidable result of making a serious miscalculation. Which, I fervently vowed, would never happen again.
“No, of course not.” I straightened up to my full five feet, six inches and shook my head. Which unfortunately set my ponytail swinging, not a good thing.
Hardcastle frowned. “So go already. My secretary will give you the tickets and itinerary. And, Sydney, don't forget, this is your last chance.”
He meant that threat, so I smiled and hurried from his office before he could change his mind about Rome.