Excerpt from Bella Italia by Camille Taylor
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Heavenly (Book 1)
Publication Date: May 30, 2017
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Romance
Small-town wallflower, Adelaide Montgomery has lived an uneventful life—until she witnesses the murder of her best friend…
Adelaide clings to the simple security of a home and a wish for family—desires that sent her former fiancé into another woman’s arms.
Happy to remain in Heavenly, Australia for the rest of her life, she reluctantly gives in to her best friend, Rachel’s pleading to join her on a trip to Italy. A decision which will alter her life forever.
Gorgeous men can be deadly killers in disguise…
When her best friend returns to their hotel suite with two male companions the night doesn’t go as planned and Rachel is murdered in cold blood.
Able to identify the killer, Adelaide finds herself a target, barely escaping with her life.
In order to protect his witness, Rome Inspector Antonio Cardellini hides Adelaide at his family’s winery. Though Antonio is a professional and Adelaide is under his charge, his feelings quickly surpass the limits of his job. Knowing one day she will return home, he struggles to distance himself, but the trial and his family continue to throw him and Adelaide back together.
Will Antonio put his badge above his heart? Or will he risk it all—his career, Adelaide’s life, and the possibility of a future together—all for a chance at love?
Adelaide lifted up her hand, creating a square with her joined fingers to encompass a small section as if looking through the viewer on her Nikon.
“So beautiful.” She shifted her hands to include Antonio in the shot. The warm sun shining on his raven hair, his eyes as blue as the deepest ocean.
He was gorgeous. Could’ve easily been a model if he’d been so inclined. Or a movie star. But it wasn’t just skin deep. He was kind and caring and made her feel comfortable with him.
That was a miracle in itself. She was never comfortable with men. He calmed the riotous fears inside her belly and made her feel almost invincible when he was near. Sure, he had ulterior motives but he still worried over her because he was a genuinely nice person. She liked that he treated her as a person and not just a means to an end.
Oh goodness, she was attracted to him. Maybe even halfway in love with him. But how could that be? She barely knew him. She looked at him again and her stomach danced a jaunty jig.
This was not good. She couldn’t possibly allow herself to fall for the man. Not only was he the man keeping her safe but Italian. Even if by some miracle he might want her too, she would soon go back to Australia and he would stay here. No, it would do no good for her to allow herself to fall in love with him. But somehow, she knew she was already too late.
Which was complete nonsense. She hadn’t known him long. Spent little time in his company but for a few snatches of time here and there. But then love wasn’t always about time but rather actions and his melted her heart. The way he treated her, so considerate of her feelings had her heart bursting with pleasure. She couldn’t explain it, only accept the flood of emotions racing through her body.
She tried not to think of Rachel’s words about true love but once they’d taken root they were hard to dislodge. Maybe she simply read too much into the situation.
If she wasn’t careful, he’d end up hurting her. Through no fault of his own. She’d always spent too much time dreaming than seeing the reality. In no way could her silly infatuation go anywhere so she needed to put a stop to it now. How exactly she planned to do that, she’d wasn’t sure.
What she now experienced transcended any feeling she’d had for Peter leaving her memory of their relationship like dust in her mouth. She’d believed herself in love with him, but it paled in comparison to the way her heart stuttered and her breathing shortened when Antonio looked at her. No wonder Peter had left. They’d done a disservice to each other by staying together as long as they had.
When Antonio spoke, he washed away her recent revelations and unknowingly filled her with ice. “How are you doing today?”
She knew he meant well but images of Rachel surfaced hard and fast of her last moments, her friend’s crimson blood drenching the carpet and staining Adelaide’s hands. Her inability to save her friend. She swallowed around the newly-formed knot in her throat.
“I don’t know how not to be sad. She didn’t deserve it. She didn’t deserve anything that happened to her. She’d been through so much in such a short life. This trip was supposed to be a new start. I thought she’d finally be free of her demons.”
There were times she’d been jealous of Rachel and yet, Rachel had also been jealous of her. Her mind flicked back to the day Rachel had said love wasn’t for her. Her whole life she’d been treated unfairly—if not cruelly.
“Heavenly was not kind to her. They believed what they wanted to. What society had made her and I hate them for it. No one cares that she’s dead. Beauty comes at a price. She told me that. Men saw her as nothing more than a vessel for their pleasure. Women as their competition. Not one of them knew she wanted none of it. She learned to tolerate attention and manipulated it to her own end.”
He allowed her to talk, to get the injustices off her chest though it wasn’t the answer he sought, the affirmation she would be straightened out by the time the trial came round. Of course, the trial wasn’t the only reason he’d asked. He cared for her. Maybe not the way her silly heart would want but it was the little things he did that showed her his kindness, a gentle touch here, a soothing word there. He was her sanity even now when she felt as though she would shatter like a broken mirror, jagged and final.
“There was always something dark inside her. She scared me once a few months after I came to live with the Sallingers, her words bleak. Empty. As though she was already dead. But I loved her and I don’t know how to keep on going without her.” Her shoulders heaved and her throat burned as she forced the physical pain away. He reached out but she stepped away, out of his reach. “Please don’t. Not now. I’ll crumble.”
His fingers curled into the ancient wall overlooking the valley. A slice pierced her heart as his tense body stood firmly in place, honouring her request though it went against everything he believed in. Yes, it was the little things that had her falling for him. A steady rock amongst the raging river.
Camille Taylor is an Australian sexy romantic suspense author who lives in the Nation’s Capital with her fluffy sidekick. She spends her time reading, writing, blogging and procrastinating on Pinterest looking at nail art, books, home improvement tips and cake decorating. A bookworm, she enjoys most genres, particularly romance and mysteries and is HEA chaser so you’ll always find one in her books. She started writing at sixteen and is currently working on her Harbour Bay and Heavenly Series, both set in Australia. Camille is also an incurable genealogist and has traced her heritage to England, Scotland, Ireland and Russia. She loves scrapbooking, hockey, tae kwon do and travelling.
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