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About the author:
Kate Ashenden is a copywriter, public relations professional, and author of the new book 'Wanted in Paradise'.
With nearly fifteen years of creative writing experience, Kate is keen to become a full-time romance author.
Kate's desire is to continue to write unique storylines with traditional love interests that grip the reader.
Based in the United Kingdom, Kate spends her working time eyes glued to a computer screen (usually with coffee and biscuits on either side of the laptop!)
If you would like to connect with Kate, please visit her Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ashendenauthor
Here is a short sample from the book:
She quickly gathered the letters, but then she noticed the smashed photo frame. It was a picture of the Moretti family, from when she’d joined them in Naples six years ago to visit Mama Moretti’s brother. Jasmine smiled as she remembered Uncle Gino’s mansion and the lavish décor within. The spiral staircase was attractive, but everywhere there were sculptures, some religious, some erotic, and the mosaic walls were migraine-inducing.
The photo had been taken on their day of arrival, so everyone was smiling and carefree, but later that evening, Uncle Gino’s son, Raff, took them to Secolo, one of his dad’s nightclubs. He owned quite a lot of property in the Naples area, and Jasmine noticed that even the taxi drivers nodded at him. Just a nod, not a smile. It was about 8 pm when Jasmine, Romeo, Diego and Raff headed into the centre of Naples.
Uncle Gino had converted a 15th-century wool factory into the luxurious and extravagant nightclub. He must have spent an enormous amount on the project, which surprised Jasmine considering the many nightclubs that had closed in recent years and given way to a plethora of trendy bars. However, Secolo was teeming with revellers, and the old building was throbbing with the heavy bass of contemporary music and young people laughing and flirting.
Raff had led them to the VIP Lounge, then the bar manager dutifully followed to take their drinks order. It didn’t take long for Diego and Raff to get drunk and raucous. Romeo was better at handling his alcohol intake, and Jasmine wasn’t enjoying herself enough to guzzle down her drink in the way the men were. She hated it when Diego was drunk. He would become sleazy around her and speak to her in a sexist way. So, as she watched him muck about with his cousin, she moodily anticipated the slur that would follow.
“Are you okay?” Romeo asked her.
“Not really. Diego promised me he wouldn’t get drunk. I should have known he was lying. I fall for it every time,” she said.
“Don’t worry, we’ll leave in a bit,” Romeo said.
“No, I don’t want to stop your fun,” she said.
“It’s not as fun as I was expecting,” he said. “That group of guys on the table over there, they’ve been looking at us for a while now. I’m guessing they know Raff, but I wouldn’t say they’re friends.”
Jasmine looked at the young men that were huddled in an alcove. They looked like they were hatching a plan. Raff hadn’t heard what Romeo had said, but he turned to Jasmine and said, “Why are you looking so sad, Jasmine? Is my cousin Diego neglecting his beautiful girlfriend?”
She looked at Diego and rolled her eyes, waiting for him to say something stupid.
“Raff, Jasmine is never neglected, I know how to please my girl,” Diego said.
Jasmine shifted in her seat, cringing at his suggestion. He had this horrible way of making her feel objectified when he was engaging in boys’ banter.
“Take Jasmine for a dance,” Raff told Diego.
“She doesn’t want to dance,” Diego said, clearly too lazy to step away from the table full of drinks.
Feeling annoyed by his arrogance in speaking on her behalf, she stood up and said, “You’re wrong! I do want to dance!”
“Okay baby, let’s do it,” Diego said, nearly knocking the table over as he leant towards her.
“Not with you!” she said. “You can’t even stand up straight.”
Romeo gestured for Diego to sit down.
“I’ll take you for a dance,” Raff said. “Come on, I’ll introduce you to some of my female friends too. You’re a bit outnumbered here.”
Jasmine accepted Raff’s offer, and she followed him onto the dancefloor. They didn’t need to weave through the crowds, because everyone seemed to recognise Raff and they made space for him.
As Raff spun her around and pretended to be a good dancer, Jasmine smiled and laughed and began to enjoy herself. Then, suddenly, without any warning at all, Raff thumped into her as he was pushed from behind. The man that had attacked him was shouting angrily, so infuriated with Raff that he was spitting. The only word Jasmine recognised as the man spoke was ‘sorella’, which means ‘sister’ in Italian. Raff gave as good as he got, and a full-blown fight started. The crowd pulled away, but there was nowhere for Jasmine to take cover. Raff stumbled into her, and this time she fell, causing her ankle to twist as she landed. Within seconds she was swept from the floor and into Romeo’s arms.
“I’m getting you out of here,” he said, as he clenched her tightly and charged through the crowd. She was so close to him that she could smell his aftershave and feel the stubble on his chin. Latched to Romeo in this way was like an aphrodisiac to her, so the fear that Jasmine had felt when the fight had started changed into a feeling of having butterflies in her stomach, as she absorbed his body heat. Jasmine wanted to touch him, so she flattened her hand on the top of his firm chest, which was ever so slightly damp, and pulled his shirt, her fingers dipping underneath the fabric. It wasn’t provocative or intrusive, but it was a way of offloading the frustration she felt about not being able to squeeze him passionately. She had enjoyed intimacy with Diego, but there was something about Romeo that made her want to consume him.
When they got outside, the warm summer air felt fresh in comparison to the suffocating heat inside. Romeo was panting. Then, as his breathing slowed, he said, “Diego didn’t see it happen. He pretty much collapsed on the sofa after you left. Luckily I saw you, and I tried to get to you as quickly as I could.”
“Thank you, Romeo. I wonder why they were fighting?” Jasmine said.
“Who knows. Raff’s always up to some mischief. I should be in there breaking it up, but I don’t want to leave you.”
“I’ll be okay,” she said.
“No, you won’t. Not here on your own.”
“Thank you.” She smiled at him warmly, knowing it must be difficult for him leaving his family inside.
Jasmine limped her way over to a bench, her ankle still hurting.
“You’ve twisted your ankle?” Romeo said.
“Yeah, when I fell.”
Romeo bent down and lifted her foot to examine the swelling.
“It should be okay. You might need to rest it for a day or so.”
Even though he was facing downwards, she could see that a smile had crossed his face.
“What are you thinking?” she said.
“I was just thinking how small your feet are.”
Jasmine frowned a little.
“I mean it nicely,” he said, looking up at her.
He was so handsome, so sweet; it was like candy for her eyes, so she looked at him dreamily. She could stare at him for hours and still be intrigued.
He sat on the bench, close to her, and they locked eyes, looking at each other deeply and intently. He lowered his face to hers, and their lips brushed for a moment, enough to send a thrill through her body, but as Romeo pushed closer to her plump lips, the door of the club swung open and Raff’s attacker was thrown out, followed by Raff.
While the man was being punched by the security guards, Raff swaggered over to them, still maintaining his confident demeanour, even though he was bruised and bloody. By this point, Romeo and Jasmine had shifted from one end of the bench to the other, all evidence of their intimacy removed.
“That guy’s a dead man,” Raff said. Then, changing the subject, he asked about Diego’s whereabouts, so Romeo left Raff with Jasmine and went inside, returning shortly afterwards with Diego, who by that point had woken and was wide-eyed at the news of Jasmine’s injury.
It didn’t matter what he said to Jasmine, an apology meant nothing, even though she wasn’t angry with Diego any more. She was still floating in the clouds following her kiss with Romeo, which had only been a soft touch, but it had contained a strong message.
From that day onwards her feelings for Diego dwindled as her desire for Romeo strengthened, and it was only a matter of time before her relationship with Diego ended.
Casting the memory aside, Jasmine sighed and looked from the memento box to the black bin liner. Where should the photo go? With the rubbish, she decided. Her dream of a relationship with Romeo was over, and this photo was just a reminder of the time when the hurt began. The day after they had briefly kissed, Romeo had pretended nothing had happened, and he kept his guard up. He knew it had been wrong to kiss Jasmine, but she’d always hoped that one day he’d think that it was right for them to be together. She tied up the bin liner tightly and reminded herself that today was a new beginning.