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About the author:
Official RWA member Violet Elizabeth Moon writes sweet and sexy romances. This lover of love was born and raised up North at the turn of the century and has adored writing from a young age. She is ecstatic to be breaking into the romance genre and hopes to bring smiles to her readers' faces.
What inspired you to write your book?
I was inspired by a hotel my father went to where the numbers on the rooms were out of order, and it was a puzzle to find his. That inspired my idea for the puzzle-themed hotel, and the romance followed soon after.
Here is a short sample from the book:
I arrive at the dining room for dinner, and there he is, at a table for two by himself. I walk as gracefully as I can, like I don’t have the overwhelming urge to forget my dignity and just run to him. “Hey.” Please don’t think that sounded as breathless as I do.
“Hello yourself,” he smiles. “Care to join me?” I sit down and see he already has two menus. Out of fear that I’ll blush if I look at him, I interest myself in the menu. And find it’s a crossword puzzle. The drinks, appetizers, entrees, everything is a crossword, with the ingredients as the hints and the answers written upside down on the bottom. “This place is amazing!”
“I had a feeling you’d like it,” he smiles, looking at me the way he used to whenever he said he loved me.
“Thank you,” I say softly so he doesn’t hear.
“You’re welcome.” Damn it.
“What are you having,” I switch topics.
“The mozzarella sticks and shrimp scampi sound good,” he always did like Italian food. “And you.” He hums lightly.
For a moment I swear that wasn’t a question, but I’m embarrassed enough so I proceed as if I know with certainty it was. “Hmm… I’ll get mozzarella sticks too. And the…baked ziti sounds good too.” I check the answer and grin. Our waiter arrives and we order.
“Your LinkedIn profile says you’re a research librarian now,” Lex says after a moment. “How do you like it?”
“It’s great,” I answer. “I’ve always loved research and books, you know.”
“I figured you would,” he smiles. “I’m happy for you.”
“And what are you up to these days?” I ask quickly. “It seems like every other day I see all these articles about you donating money to some charity or other.”
“Much to my parents’ chagrin,” he says wryly. “But Father shouldn’t have left me in charge of Linton Enterprises’ finances if he didn’t want me to spend any of it on others.”
“How’s retired life suiting him?”
“Mother and he love living year-round in their summer home,” and despite his previous disdain, he sounds genuinely joyful.
The waiter serves us our waters. “Do you still read every day?” I ask him.
“Of course,” he takes a sip. “New releases, classics, all the same genres I used to. I haven’t really changed in that regard. And I take it you haven’t either.”
“Hardly,” I laugh. “Did you read the new Maya Dickinson anthology?”
“Yes! Did you?”
“I love it,” and apparently so does he. We talk about it until well after our food arrives, just like we’re two nerdy high school kids again. From there the conversation segues to politics, which we have strong but similar opinions on. Then the topic switches to friends from high school and who we still keep in touch with.
“Have you gone to any school reunions?” He asks. I shake my head. “I thought so; I’ve never seen you at any.”
“I was afraid that if I saw you there it would be too awkward,” I confess. I wouldn’t have admitted it a few hours ago, but now it feels safe.
“I suppose that refusing to keep in touch with you or speak to you after that night didn’t help,” he concedes.
“Not particularly,” but I barely even resent him for it anymore. Still, I have to know. “Why did you always reject my attempts to reach out?”
“I was hurt,” he says after a moment. “I really believed you would accept that night. I kept envisioning this wonderful life ahead of us, and when you said no it was like it had just been snatched away from me. And I was embarrassed I had been so foolish. What really cut me though was when you implied I didn’t really love you, that I was as materialistic as my parents. That after years of defending you and giving you all my love it wasn’t enough for you to believe me.” My head spins. So that’s why he never reciprocated. And with time he has forgiven me enough to want to try again. Maybe he never got over me, just like I never really got over him.
“Excuse me,” our waiter interrupts. “The restaurant will be closing in ten minutes.” I look at the clock: it’s nearly midnight. God, have we really been talking for that long? He pays for himself and I use my sweepstakes certificate to pay, trying to ignore how my stomach flutters at the thought that in a way he’s really paying for both of us. Like a date.
We take the elevator up, just the two of us. It’s fairly large, but it feels so small like there’s no space between us. His cologne tickles my nose and my eyes wander to how his top button is open and just a tuft of dark hair peeks out from it. I wonder how far it goes…
The elevator opens and we walk closer than necessary to get to our rooms. I wish the halls were longer.
“I had a lovely evening with you.” He murmurs.
“And I with you.” I look into his eyes; so beautiful. “Listen, Lex…I’m sorry for what I said that night. Not for saying no, but how I said it. Especially about you choosing some random rich girl over me. I was insecure about not being up to your family’s standards and it came out that night. But I shouldn’t have projected my own insecurities onto you and accused you of something you’re not and never have been. I’m sorry.”
“I think I might just have it in me to forgive you,” he says softly, leaning into me. My breath quickens and his face is close to mine. Our lips are centimeters apart. Then he pulls away. “Have a good night Anne. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Goodnight,” I collect my bearings, just barely. He smirks. “Sweet dreams.”