Page 4 of An Amazon Affair

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“Marino?” she’d asked, scanning my face with wide eyes before looking down at her computer. “Okay.”

“My father changed it from Maranhão.”

“Ah.” Her smile had faded a touch. “Your passport and credit card, please?”

As I fished them out of my bag and placed them on the counter, I kept talking to the top of her bent head, my nervous energy taking over: “My father was Brazilian...but, I’m American. From New York.”

She’d looked up and gievm me an awkward nod before taking my passport and resuming her work on the keyboard.

“I mean, I’m half Brazilian, I guess. I never really thought about it.”

Click-clack. Clickety-clack.

“He never taught me Portuguese.”


“It just didn’t seem important.”

When she’d looked up again, her smile was plastic and didn’t reach her eyes. “I have you in a king-bedded room for one night?”

“Sounds right,” I’d said, leaning my elbow on the counter and still feeling unsettled, like I owed her an explanation, or wanted to prove I wasn’tanti-Brazilian. “Don’t get me wrong: I have nothingagainstBrazil.”

She’d scoffed softly before saying something in Portuguese that sounded like “sortay nose-uh.”

“I’m sorry. I don’t speak—”

“You’re in room five-one-six, Miss Marino,” she’d said, placing a key card on the counter between us. “The wifi code is your room number and surname. All lowercase. No spaces. The restaurant won’t be open until dinner, but the pool bar on the roof is open now. The lift is right behind you. I hope you have a pleasant stay.”

“Thank you,” I’d told her, turning around to drag my suitcases toward the elevator.

I still don’t feel good about our exchange an hour later. In Manhattan, I know who I am, where I come from and what I want. Here? I’m a walkingfaux pas; uncharacteristically awkward; a fish out of water, and I don’t like it.

Sitting alone in my room, I remember her telling me the pool bar is open and decide to take the edge off my nerves with a drink. A smattering of people are still enjoying the pool when I get there. And a hot—a very, very hot, young bartender—is standing behind a tropical-style Tiki bar as I approach.

“Ola,”he calls to me.“O que você gostaria?”

“I’m sorry. I don’t speak—”

“What can I get you?”

I slide onto an empty stool and look up at him, reminding myself I’m a confident New Yorker.

“A mojito, please.”

His smile is lazy and sexy, like warm sheets on a Sunday morning. He leans his elbows on the bar, and the breeze delivers a delicious whiff of his aftershave.Sigh.

“How about a Caipirinha instead?” he asks.

“I have no idea what that is.”

“Only the national drink of Brazil,” he tells me, leaning back to place peeled lime slices in a chrome martini shaker. “It’s the best.”

“How do you make it?” I ask, taking a seat across from him.

“First the lime,” he says, gesturing to the shaker before measuring out a tablespoon of sugar. “Then the sugar.” He crushes the two ingredients together, twisting the muddler, his biceps bulging. “Then the ice.” He fills the rest of the shaker with cubes. “And then the cachaça.”

“Cachaça? What’s that?”

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