From the Author
Spin-off series: Italian Summer:
** The final book in this series, New Beginnings - Elsa's story, is out NOW! **
The Honeymoon and Italian Summer series are connected and overlap in timelines.
For a recommended reading order to avoid spoilers, go to:
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From the Inside Flap
"I'm so sorry," she said breathlessly, as her bag slipped from her elbow and she half knelt, half bent her knee, to help him.
He looked at her then, and she felt the heat from those dark, glittering eyes singe her cheeks.
His eyes were the color of dark chocolate. She smiled, feeling herself melting. "Not a problem." He smiled at her, his lips full, his jaw chiseled.
Oh dear god, she wasn't going to be able to get back up.
He stood up, and held out his hand. At first she just stared at it blankly, her senses deserting her completely. When he nodded, and looked at her with those penetrating eyes again she took his hand as though it was a lifeline.
He had her covered, good and strong; his firm hand gripped hers and she flew up, straight into his chest again. Embarrassment covered her face as she rebounded back from his taut body. That brief encounter, her body flush against his, was imprinted on her senses.
"I'm so sorry." She mumbled, handing him back his signs.
"That's the second time you've said that," he commented, watching her with something akin to amusement.
The first thing she noticed was that his ripe lips curled up at the edges, and when he smiled his eyes blazed like dark granite stones. The second thing she noticed was that he was impeccably dressed, in a well-cut dark suit with a white shirt. And the third thing she noticed was that he was drop-dead, breath-stoppingly handsome. It immediately made her want to vanish into thin air.
But as their eyes locked, time stopped. Her heart bounced around like a ping-pong ball underneath her ribs.
She had to break the spell. "I'm staying at the Casa Adriana. Did they send you?"
He dipped his head a little, and smiled at her again. "Yes, they did. Shall we go?" His tone was low and steady.
What was happening to her? She'd lost the ability to speak. Luggage, tell him about the luggage.
As synapses reconnected and sparked back to life, Ava managed to string a bunch of words together. "I've ...lost my... luggage."
The man twitched his lips. "Let's see if we can fix that for you," he said easily, as though this was no major problem.
Ava felt her heart beginning to slow down, just a little. Jetlag did not sit well with her at the best of times but now it was clouding her every thought. Now that this man, who might just as well have walked off the catwalks of Milan and into her path at the airport, stood watching her with a twinkle in his eye.
Her legs felt boneless.
She stared at this smoothly sculpted face and was instantly reminded of Rona's warnings which she dismissed immediately. "I'm sorry you had a bad journey coming here. But we'll sort it out. Don't worry."
In that moment, he made her feel taken care of; something that was alien to her, after everything that had happened. It wasn't just the terrible plane journey with its delays and lost luggage but what this journey signified for her: it was meant to herald a new start.
For no reason at all, she felt irrationally emotional and stood up straight staring up at him.
"Thank you." She felt her defenses crumble like pastry and struggled to keep her emotions in check.
The very act of his kindness had dismantled her guard.
She smiled at him weakly and watched as he leapt into action, summoning the clerk over from the Information desk. He ordered him to chase up the missing luggage.
Then he turned back to Ava. "Forgive me, I seem to have mislaid my customer sheet. I don't have any details for you. Your name?"
"Ava Ramirez. From Denver." She looked at the signs that he carried.
"Welcome to Verona, Ms. Ramirez. My name is Nico." His gaze quickened her pulses.
"Nice to meet you, Nico." She managed a smile but had to look elsewhere before she made a complete fool of herself. The clerk over by the information desk was walking back towards them.
"We're sorry Mr.--"
"Go on," the driver cut him off short.
"The lady's luggage is still at Rome airport. The flight was delayed and it appears that they didn't get the luggage onto the plane in time. It will arrive on the next flight." He looked at Ava apologetically.
"When would that be?" Ava asked, and then rubbed her forehead with the palm of her hand. She could feel a headache coming on.
The clerk blushed deeply. "Not until tomorrow morning, Madam. I'm sorry."
Ava looked deflated. She took a long, deep breath in. "That long? But I don't have anything on me, no clothes, nothing." She tried to make light of, and beamed a tired smile at the clerk.
"It will turn up when it turns up, I guess. Thank you for following it up."
The clerk looked relieved and then Nico dismissed him.
Now it was just the two of them. She stared at him blankly. "Could this get any worse?" She didn't expect him to answer, but the man raised an eyebrow.
"Don't worry. I'll see to it that you have everything you need. Come, let's get you to the hotel." He led the way out of the airport and Ava followed him. It was just a short distance to the car that was parked just to the side of the small airport.
Nico held the backseat passenger door open for her.
Charmed by his thoughtfulness, Ava could only smile at him again as she clambered into the car. She should have felt lousy and overtired and the thought of having no clothes to change into would have just about tipped the balance of her sanity.
But she felt alive, and excited, and very much looking forward to the ride with this new stranger.