When in Rome
By J. Lynn Rowan
GENRE: Contemporary Romance, Chick Lit
BLURB:Atlanta-based photographer Kate Miller doesn’t believe in fairytale romance or relationships of the forever kind. She’s determined to build her own happiness through hard work and professional success. So, when the opportunity arises to join an exclusive fashion photo shoot in Rome, she jumps on the chance to gain international recognition. But she’s not counting on an instant attraction to the charismatic, sexy, and irritatingly arrogant director of the shoot.
World famous, Domenic Varezzi is used to calling the shots. His clients trust his instincts and they’re willing to pay for the best. But while his career is thriving, his personal life has been lackluster at best. Hoping Kate could be the answer he’s been looking for, he’s determined to win her over. Every challenge she sends his way drives him to break through her tough-as-nails exterior to reach the vulnerable heart that matches his own.
Surrounded by the beauty and magic of Italy’s “Eternal City,” a foundation begins to form that could lead to a lifetime partnership, both in business and in love. Until Domenic’s past comes back to haunt the present and threatens to destroy everything.
EXCERPT“Let’s get moving,” Domenic says, taking the boarding passes from Joe. “Pilot wants to be cleared for takeoff in twenty minutes.”
The team lines up, toes tapping, as he thumbs through the boarding passes and starts calling out our names. “Corrine. Rafe. Dave.” Each person steps forward to take their passes and heads toward the gate agent. “Lauren. Joe. Miranda.”
Then it’s just me. Domenic and me, staring at each other steps away from the jet bridge. He holds my boarding pass out to me, and a little surge of indignation heats my face. I want to hear him say my name, the way he said everyone else’s, like it’s validation for my spot on his team. My brows lower and my mouth tightens. I stride toward him, close enough to take my boarding pass.
But I don’t.
I glare at him.
A little coil of something hotter than indignation winding through my core at the amusement shining in his emerald eyes.
He thinks this is funny. My discomfort and impatience is a freaking joke to him.
“Well?” I grind out.
Slowly, he extends my boarding pass toward me. A half-grin pulls at one corner of his mouth as I continue to wait. Something else appears in his eyes alongside that irksome amusement.
My stomach flips.
“Kate.” His voice is low and sonorous, just loud enough for me to hear.
The flip, and the simmering annoyance that’s been building over the past three minutes, explodes into an eruption of raging butterflies. Dizziness threatens the stability of my stance, and my cheeks are on fire. Short of breath, I snatch my boarding pass from his artistically elegant fingers and march myself down the jet bridge.
I accept the handshake. But a split second into it, as our gazes lock, his grip softens around mine. A slow warmth seeps down my arm and melts into my chest. My lungs seize, and Domenic’s throat works briefly as if he can’t quite swallow.
This is not what I signed on for.
Panic sets in. I slide my hand from his and cup it around the bowl of my glass. The wine burns a little as I take too big a gulp, but I manage not to cough. Domenic, too, has retreated into his glass, but whatever just passed in that handshake hangs over us.
“So,” I say in a voice too close to a whisper, sending a sidelong glance his way, “do you always wander around hotels at night with two glasses and a bottle of wine?”
“Only when there’s a chance I might run into a pretty girl.”
I snort into my glass, relieved that the spell seems to be broken.
Domenic’s grin returns. “Why is that funny?”
“The last person to call me a pretty girl was my great-uncle, and I think I was ten years old at the time.”
He chuckles. “Beautiful woman, then.”
The unexpected compliment sets off a flurry of butterflies deep in my stomach. Suddenly breathless, I drain my glass and set it down, then reach for my laptop and close the screen. “Now you’re just making fun of me.”
“I didn’t mean to.”
Chair legs scrape as we both push away from the table, me ready to bolt, him rising to placate me before I can. We stand facing each other, nearly as close as we were in the studio this afternoon. Taking a deep breath, I stare at his chest for a minute. Once my wild heartbeat and those damn butterflies settle, I tip my head back to meet his gaze.
“What are you doing on Sunday?” he asks before I can speak.
I stutter for a minute, unable to look away from his eyes. “Sightseeing, probably. We have the whole day off.”
“Maybe I’ll join you.”
My throat feels tight again. Nodding, I skirt around him, choking out something that sounds like, “Good night.”
His fingers touch my arm as I pass. “Good night, Kate.”
Head spinning, I clutch my laptop against my chest and rush to the terrace doors. I look back when I reach the doorway, only to find him watching me, his thumbs hooked in his pockets and a half-smirk on his face.
A face I find too handsome for my own good.
Still, I wave at him, wiggling my fingers like a silly teenager who sees her crush across the cafeteria. My face burns as I whirl, practically sprinting across the dark breakfast room to the hallway and stairwell.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:J. Lynn Rowan started writing stories as a small child, usually starring her favorite cartoon characters. Most of her work through middle and high school was filled with typical teenage angst and melodrama, and usually mirrored the books she loved to read. But eventually she found her own author’s voice and decided to seriously pursue a writing career.
Historical fiction remains J. Lynn’s “first love”, but she has enjoyed the journey to becoming an author of romance and chick lit. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, the Central New York Romance Writers, and the Historical Novel Society. She is also a teacher who tries to instill a love of learning, reading, and writing in her students.
When she’s not writing, J. Lynn enjoys travelling, gardening poorly but enthusiastically, studying various topics in American history for her own expertise, and channeling Julia Child every time she steps into the kitchen.
A native of Oswego, NY, she now lives in Charlotte, NC, with her own Romantic Hero of a husband and the most adorable baby on the planet.
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