After four years of marriage, Jordan believes that he and his beloved Italian wife, Isabella, have found their happy ending. True, he’s not exactly winning over Hollywood with his screenplays, and to make ends meet he’s had to take a job teaching writing, but he’s certain his big break is just around the corner. So when Isabella suddenly leaves him and returns to her native Rome, Jordan refuses to accept that their marriage is over. Raised on romantic comedies and fed a steady diet of Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, Jordan has always believed that there is a simple formula for love–and it follows the rhythm of the classic romantic comedy.
Seizing on Isabella’s jealous nature, Jordan decides that in order to get her back, he must date another woman. But since he can’t imagine actually dating anyone else, he makes someone up. Her name is Naomi, and she’s based on a very attractive, very French former student of Jordan’s. To make their pretend relationship believable, Jordan “goes out” with Naomi in his imagination–providing her with dialogue, fleshing out her personality, even dressing her. All is going swimmingly–and the ruse seems to be working on Isabella–when Jordan realizes that Naomi has taken on a life of her own. She shows up everywhere, though only he can see her, and she seems to have a muselike agenda for the bewildered writer. Strangely, the phantom Naomi seems to provide the inspiration that Jordan’s screenwriting has been missing for so long.
But be careful what you wish for. Just when it looks as if Isabella may consider coming back, life with Naomi becomes even more bizarrely complicated, and soon Jordan is desperate to make her disappear. He’s learning the hard way that once Pandora’s box is opened, it’s a bitch to close.