Last month when I blogged I told you about an exciting new series that seven authors (including myself) are working on. One by one the stories are being completed and polished and will soon be available in print and ebook on Amazon. Readers will also be able to read the series for free on Kindle Unlimited.
If you didn’t know, A Tuscan Legacy is a 9-book multi-author series. I am writing two stories in the series:
— Book 1 – That’s Amore
— Book 4 – Ti Amo
Today I’d like to share a little about book 1.
Taking a six-month sabbatical, Italian lawyer Rafaele Rossi moves from Florence to manage the family farm in Tuscany for his aging nonna after his father passed away. Convinced a family get-together is what Nonna needs to lift her spirits, he plans an eightieth birthday party for her, making sure his siblings and cousins attend.
The Keswick jewelry store where Jayne Austin has worked for seven years closes its doors. Jayne decides to take her generous severance pay and move to Italy for a while—Tuscany to be precise. Choosing to leave her fate in God’s hands, she prays she’ll miraculously bump into the handsome best man she’d danced the night away with at a friend’s Tuscan wedding two years ago. She hasn’t been able to forget those smoldering brown eyes and that rich Italian accent.
When Rafaele receives what appears to be a valuable painting titled “Lost Love” from an unknown benefactor, he’s reminded that he doesn’t want to lose Jayne again. But what kind of commitment will it take for her to stay?
From the top of the road, Rafaele spotted the small car parked near the entrance to the villa. Probably some tourist taking pictures, although at the moment there wasn’t much to photograph. In a few weeks there’d be a field of yellow sunflowers to snap, plus bales and bales of hay in freshly-cut fields, the images a photographer’s dream. Of course, the lavender field looked its best now, but that was on the other side of the estate, out of sight of passersby.
As he drew nearer, he noticed that the leggy woman standing beside the car, hands on her curvaceous hips, was no photographer. Rather, she seemed to be having car trouble.
He shoved his hat on his head and hurried closer.
“Ciao.” His greeting came with a smile and a wave. “You need some help?”
Her head snapped up, her face shadowed by the brim of her hat. “Yes. Thank you. My car’s tire is flat, and I have no idea how to even use a jack let alone change a tire. I thought I could figure it out, but it’s proved impossible.”
Her voice… It seemed so familiar, even though she wasn’t from around here with that strong, English accent.
He pointed a finger at her. “First of all, that dress is no outfit to be changing a car tire in.” Wrong color. Wrong length. But, Mamma mia, did she look great in it. Like those cherries on the fabric—good enough to eat.
He chuckled and walked around the car to where she stood. Soft, flowery notes tickled his nostrils. Double Mamma mia! She not only looked good, she smelled amazing too.
The woman removed her hat. Long, blond hair tumbled over her shoulders, taking his breath away. She stuck out her hand.
Rafaele did the same, at exactly the same time, and gazed up at her.
“It’s you,” they declared in unison.
Reluctant to release her hand, Rafaele laughed, his mind whirling to remember her name. June? Joan? “I can’t believe it’s…you…” Another thing he couldn’t believe was how he’d managed to let this woman slip between the cracks of life. This J—
She gave a soft chuckle, her cheeks flushing. Or were they a little sunburnt? “Jayne.”
Exactly the name he was about to say, recalling the joke he’d cracked when they’d first met at his best friend’s wedding.
“Hi, I’m Jayne,” she’d said as she shook his hand.
“And I’m Tarzan,” he’d quipped in return before asking her to dance. Once he’d taken her in his arms, he didn’t let go all night. Unfortunately, she’d flown back to England the following day.
He’d thought of her often in the beginning, but as the days turned into months which turned into years, he’d all but forgotten about their magical encounter. He stared at her, unable to stop himself. She was more beautiful than he remembered.
A smile tugged his mouth. “The writer if I’m not mistaken.”
She shook her head, wisps of blond lifting with a sudden breeze. Quickly letting his hand go, she grasped her dress, preventing its flight. “She passed on a long time ago. I’m Jayne with a ‘y’, and Austin with an ‘i’ not an ‘e’. Remember?”
He did now. They’d joked about it as he’d whirled her around the dance floor.
“And if I remember correctly, you’re Rafaele, the best man.”
“If you say so, I’ll humbly accept the compliment.”
Her eyes widened momentarily, and then she burst out laughing as understanding of his wit dawned.
“So, w–what are you doing in Italy?” Did he sound as school-boy-crush/over-the-moon-excited as he thought he did?
She clamped her bottom lip between her teeth, her mouth skewing slightly to the side for a second as she broke eye contact. “Uh, a little holiday.” She looked up at him again. “I always regretted not having stayed longer than that single, far-too-short weekend.”
“Well, I’m happy you’ve returned. Welcome back to my country.” He leaned in closer to greet her Italian style. It’s not like they were total strangers, so why not? Their noses bumped. And their lips almost touched.
Her soft snicker echoed his chuckle as he tried again to kiss her cheek. Another close encounter with her lips, an even closer one with her nose. Clearly she did not know the cheek kissing rule. Not that he minded her blunders. Not at all.
Smiling, he stared into her baby blues. “Left cheek first. Then the right.”
Jayne buried her giggle in her hand. She shook her head and wiped away the moisture that sparkled in the corners of her eyes. Taking a deep breath, she composed herself enough to speak. “I’m sorry. All I can think of is cheeks, and then I get totally flustered as to which side to lean first. And…well, you know the rest.” She banged her fists together, mimicking their first two greeting attempts.
He gave it one final crack.
Drat. Third time lucky, much to his disappointment. Maybe his lips would’ve found hers with yet another wrong move—something he remembered wanting to do the last time he’d seen her when they’d said goodbye.
And he said he’d call.
Taking a step back, Rafaele leaned against her little car, hitching one foot up on the front tire and resting it against the alloy wheel. “When did you arrive? How long will you be here? Where are you staying?”
“Sooo many questions…” Her mouth curved into a smile which dragged him back to time lost.
Why on earth hadn’t he contacted her?
When the paper she’d written her number on was misplaced, never to be found, he took that as a sign they weren’t meant to be. Yes, he could’ve asked Joseph for her contact details—he kicked himself now for not having done so—but when he saw his best friend again, he’d already convinced himself that a long-distance relationship was probably not a good idea. It was hard enough to sustain something past a few dates with local women, hence his bachelorhood at thirty. And yet another reason for his father to resent his choices. No grandchildren. No little Rossi’s to carry on the family name. He the oldest son…his duty… He’d heard the criticisms and reminders every time he visited the villa.
“…just a few miles down the road.”
Huh? What had he missed?
Everything, it seemed by Jayne’s stare.
He pushed away from the car. “Shall we change this tire?”
“Yes, please. I really could do with some help.” Jayne eased past him. She reached into the open driver’s window and dumped her hat on the seat. She whirled around to face him. “And you are the answer to quite a few recent prayers I’ve shot to heaven.”
Smiling, Rafaele squatted down beside the flat tire. He grabbed the jack from where it lay abandoned on the grass along with the wheel spanner and tried his utmost not to let his attention drift to the shapely legs beside him. He slid the jack beneath the chassis. Soon the small car leaned away from him. As he worked, he pondered those prayers. Did she mean for the tire alone?
Only one way to find out.
He glanced up at her. “Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?
I hope you enjoyed the sneak peek into That’s Amore.
I’ll be giving a copy of this eBook away once it releases (hopefully April 17th) to one reader who comments by Friday, March 9th, 2018. I look forward to hearing from you all.
#itsyou #thatsamore #atuscanlegacy