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When in Rome
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.
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.
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 traveling, 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.