Rachel Connor is a brilliant 34-year old writer with an optimistic attitude about life. She loses her job, lives with a port wine birthmark on her face and has a pile of manuscript rejection slips on her desk. Still she hopes for better times. An opportunity to write the biography of a rich software entrepreneur appears to change her love life and her fortunes around but Rachel doesn’t see the storm coming and finds herself in a no-win situation. The coin of luck falls into her hands and a fierce man steps in to turn the tide. But can she trust him anymore than the last man who did her wrong?
Read an excerpt:
Ten minutes later, Hunter arrived and supervised as two waiters wheeled in the food she had ordered. Rachel had gone all out and ordered full breakfasts for each of them. She knew how hungry she was, and figured that Hunter would eat twice as much, given his size.
While the food was being set up, Hunter raised his eyebrows at her and said, “Was there someone else joining us for breakfast? Maybe half a football team I wasn’t made aware of?”
Rachel shook her head. “No, I wasn’t sure what you liked and everything sounded really good.” She blushed and then looked at all the food she had ordered. She had gone a bit overboard.
Hunter gave her a small smile as the waiters left the room. “Don’t worry about it. Crane can handle the bill.”
Rachel hadn’t even thought about the expense. At her look of horror Hunter couldn’t contain his chuckle. “Really, don’t worry about it. They actually pay him to stay here. It’s good publicity for the hotel.”
“Really?” she asked, still having a hard time rationalizing the waste.
“Really. Sit down and eat. What did you want to see first?”
Rachel filled a plate and sat down to eat, “I don’t really know. How much time do you think we have before Jason is finished?”
Hunter thinned his lips at her use of Crane’s first name. When they had boarded the plane, she had been calling him Crane. Now that he had worked his wiles on her, she was using his first name. That was never a good sign, and a clear indication that she was getting too involved emotionally.
Hunter secretly hated the way women threw themselves at his boss. The man was upfront with them, letting them know that a future was not in the cards, but they would get theirs hopes up anyway. When Crane tired of them, there would be tears, and threats of bodily harm—both his and theirs—and then he would send them a nice parting gift and move on to his next conquest. Crane was a selfish, spoiled man who became bored very quickly.
Rachel was a nice girl and seemed somewhat naïve. Hunter hoped for her sake that she knew what she was getting into. He would hate to see her heart get trampled upon like Crane’s other girlfriends. “Crane will most likely be tied up until dinner time. That gives you around six hours to explore.”
Rachel ate in silence for a few minutes, thinking about all of the things she wanted to see and trying to figure out which ones Jason would be the least interested in seeing. She didn’t want to bore him by having him play tourist with her.
“How about the Trevi Fountain? I’m sure Jason has seen that many times.”
Hunter nodded. “The Trevi Fountain it is. Make sure you wear comfortable walking shoes. Driving in that area is almost impossible. We will park several blocks away and walk.”
Rachel nodded, finishing her breakfast quickly. Pushing up from the table, she just barely kept from bouncing in excitement. “Give me two minutes, and I’ll be ready.” She didn’t wait for an answer, but hurried off to the attached bedroom to grab her shoes, camera, and purse.
The city of Rome was spectacular. Hunter had parked the town car several blocks away and then escorted her to the Trevi Fountain. Rachel had been amazed at all of the people on the streets. It was standing room only at the fountain and she had to wait for over thirty minutes before she was finally standing at the fountains edge.
There were lots of kids running around the fountain, with teachers talking to them rapidly, no doubt trying to get them under control. Rachel smiled as she watched their antics, and even though she didn't understand the language, she was able to interpret the tone. Behave, or else!
Rachel was particularly interested in one little girl who appeared to be getting picked on by a group of slightly older boys. When she started to cry and no one intervened, Rachel couldn’t resist going up to her and standing beside her in support. Rachel shooed the boys off and was pleasantly surprised when the boys replied in English.
After they left, she turned to the little girl who couldn’t have been much more than six or seven years old. As Rachel bent down to get on her level, she hid her expression as she took in the port-wine stain covering the little girls left cheek. The tears were still wet upon her face and Rachel dug in her purse for a tissue.
As the little girl wiped her eyes, Rachel asked her, “Were they teasing you about your mark?”
When the little girl looked up, her eyes widened in wonder as she took in Rachel’s own birthmark. Reaching her little hand up, she traced the outline of the mark with gentle fingers before answering, “They were making fun of me. Calling me a clown.”
Rachel’s heart broke; she remembered the hurtful words that had been said to her by uninformed classmates. She also remembered the day she had come home from school crying and the advice and words of wisdom her mother had given her. She smiled at the little girl and asked her, “Do you want to know what my mother told me when the same thing happened to me?”
The little girl nodded her head and Rachel happened to look up, seeing Hunter and who she assumed to be the little girl’s teacher standing directly in her line of vision. For once, Hunter had an expression on his face as he watched her; she just wasn’t educated enough about his expressions to interpret it.
Turning her attention back to the little girl, she lowered her voice. “My mother said that when the angels made me, they did such a super job, they were allowed to give me a special kiss so that everyone here on earth would know how special I was as well.”
The little girl’s eyes widened as she thought about that. “So, my mark is an angel kiss?”
Rachel nodded. “Yes. It means the angels thought you were very special. I think you’re very special as well.”
The teacher chose that moment to lean down next to the little girl and add her own voice, “You are exceptional, Bridgetta. Don’t ever forget that. Those boys are too young to understand.”
The little girl looked at her teacher, and seeing her nod, she smiled hugely and threw herself into Rachel’s arms for a quick hug. As quick as the hug started, it was over and the little girl was off, running to find her classmates.
Rachel stood up to find herself alone with Hunter, who still wore that strange expression on his face.
Hunter had been alarmed when Rachel had intervened in the schoolchildren’s verbal attack. Knowing that she didn’t speak Italian, he had followed closely, wanting to be there in case things went badly. When the teacher had approached, he had introduced himself and then stood by and watched as Rachel charmed the tears from the little girl’s eyes, putting confidence and pride in their place.
He hadn’t been able to hear what she had said, but whatever it was, it had been life-changing for the youngster. His curiosity got the better of him, and he asked, “What did you say to her?”
Rachel was shocked at the question, but happy that Hunter had decided to talk to her. “I told her what my mom told me the first day I came home from school crying. That the angels had kissed me because I was so special. The mark was their way of making sure that everyone else knew it as well.”
Hunter nodded. “Your mom sounds like a wise woman.”
Rachel nodded, smiling. “She’s the best. She never let me wallow in self-pity or get down on myself. She and my dad were very supportive while I was growing up.
Hunter nodded once again, turning to look at the fountain.
Rachel waited for him to say something else, disappointed when it appeared he was back to being his silent self. She dug through her purse for two coins and handed one to Hunter who just looked at it.
“You’re supposed to throw it over your shoulder and make a wish,” she offered, when he just stood there holding onto the coin.
Hunter hid his smirk at her sarcastic comment; Rachel was growing weary with his silence, but she knew she would have to get used to it. He only spoke when it was a last resort.
Rachel turned her back to the fountain, taking the coin in her right hand and tossing it backwards over her left shoulder. She closed her eyes for a moment and sent up a silent wish for happiness for those around her.
Opening her eyes, she saw Hunter still standing there, holding the coin. “Well? Aren’t you going to make your wish?”
Hunter made a move with his hand as if he was going to callously toss it in the fountain and she grabbed his hand, halting the movement. “You can’t do it like that. You have to toss it with your right hand, over your left shoulder. It’s tradition.”
Hunter dutifully turned and followed her instructions. As he heard the coin hit the water, he asked, “Are we done here?”
Rachel rolled her eyes; the man had no sense of romance, it seemed. “Sure. What else is close by?”
Hunter escorted her to several other sites within walking distance including the Column of Marcus Aurelius and the Temple of Hadrian, making sure to keep an eye on the time. Crane had texted him several times, keeping tabs on Rachel and instructing Hunter to have her back to the hotel by 6 o’clock for dinner.
**Check out the rest of the Single Heart series on Amazon**
About the author:
My name is Vi Zetterwall. I live in Seattle, Washington and have a day job and a private life but for years I have whiled away spare time dreaming up plots and imagining stories about men and women and their unique romantic interactions. I’m in the process of writing a series of books about the Coin of Luck in Life and Love and how it affects multiple characters. So far, I have written five of the 12 (January and the Single Heart thru May) and June is coming out in a few days.
Making up stories has always seemed very easy for me. It was having the discipline to write them down that was tough. I wrote one novel and it took three years and, honestly, it wasn't very good. Then I started in on my favorite storyline and wrote and wrote. I got up to about 200 pages in Word and realized I wasn't even one fourth of the way through. In between working and taking care of family, it had taken me seven years. That one is still collecting dust.
Then I started watching what Amazon was doing and I saw all the ebooks that were being published as short stories. I thought "Hey, I could do that!" So now I aim to write novellas (20,000 to 50,000 words) and I find the words just fly off my fingertips. Good plots but short. Turns out to be much easier.
People ask me how I am able to write so quickly and I tell them the truth. When I was young, my older sister and I slept in the same bed. What I didn't know is that as soon as I fell asleep, she would get back up and watch TV. So she wanted me to fall asleep fast! I usually fell asleep pretty quickly but one time, when I was about six, I couldn't sleep and so my sister told me to 'tell myself a story'. Well, she was my big sister! I lived off of every word that flowed from her mouth. I believed everything she said. So, I told myself a story and got to sleep. I did it the next night too. And now, 26 years later, I am still telling myself stories. Every night. Granted, at first they were pretty juvenile but as I got older I started creating more elaborate stories, writing them out word for word in my head. Now, I have dozens and dozens of them waiting impatiently to get out of my head and onto paper ... or in this case, Kindles.
I am busy writing my next book now, which, predictably enough, is called "June and the Single Heart". I hope you've had a chance to read my story. It really means a lot to me. If you would be so kind as to drop me an email and tell me what you liked (or hated) about the book, I will use all your feedback to improve and make the next one better. Or, just write and tell me about yourself or say HI and tell me where you're from. I will put you on my list and send you a notice when my next book comes out and a sneak preview to it as well.
Thank you again for giving me the chance to entertain you. If your heart is already full, I hope that my story brought you a little more happiness. And if you are still searching for that one true love, I wish you Godspeed and I pray that my story gave you hope.