THIS week we’re back in Italy and it’s my great pleasure to welcome Dana Mitchell. Not only is Dana one of my two treasured critique partners but she’s a wonderful friend. And now that we’re both published by Destiny Romance, the icing is on the cake. While I was writing Her Italian Aristocrat, Dana was working on A Venetian Affair. It was alpha heroes at three paces and a lot of fun. But now it’s over to Dana!
Ahhh, Venice…it conjures up romance, the curling steam from an espresso, pistachio ice-cream, lingering looks from lovers amongst the briny, fresh breeze and gondoliers serenading them as they float the canals.
Helen meets Gabriel in ‘A Venetian Affair’, they’re not really thinking about food, but more about their mutual, exploding attraction.
When Helen runs after that most passionate night, she never dreams she will meet Gabriel back home in Sydney. The Helen in Venice is the complete opposite of the Helen in Sydney. Hounded by the press and the daughter of a notorious criminal family, Helen doesn’t have much of a life. Without giving too much away, Helen spends night after night in Gabriel’s suite, where they share dinner together. Sydney is famous for its food and the Four Seasons Hotel is no exception.
‘We were all wearing masks. Didn’t you notice the other performers?’ Helen asked with a frown.
‘No, mio tesoro, I noticed only you.’
Oh. Helen swallowed.
A discreet knock at the door suspended their conversation, but Gabriel gave her a look that promised he would continue. Room service entered, and the delicious aroma of the food being served had Helen temporarily forgetting the tension. She hadn’t realised how hungry she was.
‘Arguing with me has increased your appetite.
‘Can’t talk, too busy eating,’ she retorted and hid a smile when he chuckled. A feeling not unlike exhilaration filled her but it was tinged with foreboding and sadness. The ever-present threat of him leaving was now just a matter of time. In Venice, courage had helped her to take a piece of happiness, just for herself. Could she find it within herself to step up again? Even though he would be the one leaving, this time for good, and taking her heart with him?
‘So the meal is to your liking?’
Oh, yes. Two fat, spicy pumpkin-filled ravioli parcels, topped with just the right amount of creamy sauce, were very nearly finished. ‘Yes, thank you.’
‘No dessert?’ he asked, finishing up his own meal.
‘No, just —’
‘— a coffee,’ he finished, giving her a warm smile.
No, just you, she thought dazedly, fighting the attraction that blazed between them. And then, safely ensconced back in their comfortable chairs in front of the large window, they began again.
‘So you liked singing in Venice?’
‘Yes,’ Helen said, adding, ‘So why were you in Venice?’
Now it was his turn to veil his eyes and hesitate before answering. ‘I was meeting one of my employees, a cousin of mine.’
‘And how did you find me down that alley with those two criminals?
‘I was watching you, of course,’ Gabriel answered immediately, giving her a steady look, ‘You and the other two performers were in the Sala Delle Stagioni, and I waited until you left. I saw the two men follow you and I realised they were up to no good.’
‘I’m very lucky you did, and I’m still very grateful. One of them, I think, would have been a lot crueller if you hadn’t come. I got off pretty lightly.’ Helen shuddered. A small silence ensued, broken only by a discreet knock on the door, signalling the arrival of their coffee. Then they were alone again.
‘Why did you make love to me in Venice?’
Sipping her coffee, Helen carefully put down her suddenly wobbly cup. What sort of question was that? ‘Why did you make love to me? An unknown woman, wearing a mask?’ Helen asked, going on the attack.
‘Because the attraction between us was something I’d never experienced before.’
Stunned, she could only look at him, wondering if he were telling the truth.
Helen doesn’t have a sweet tooth at all, and in a later scene, Gabriel tries his best to have her eat his favourite dessert—tiramisu. The one thing they both have in common?—a love of sharing a coffee after a meal. To find out what else they have in common you have to read the book!
‘A Venetian Affair’ can be found here:
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