Valentine's Day is the major holiday enlivening the winter month of February. Few realize its celebration dates to February 14, 270 A.D., the day the early Christian martyr Valentinus died by order of Claudius II. On the eve of his death, Valentinus wrote a last note to Julia, the daughter of his jailer, and signed it "From your Valentine." St. Valentine was buried at at what is now the Church of Praxedes in Rome. Legend says that Julia herself planted a pink-blossomed almond tree near his grave. Today, the almond tress remains a symbol of abiding love and friendship and lovers the world over exchange messages of affection, love, and devotion.
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The path of true love is often strewn with conflict and Carolina, the Contessina deSimone and her childhood sweetheart, Conte Carlo Patrizio, find theirs to be no exception. Here in honor of Love's special holiday is a preview from "My Heart Still Surrenders" my award winning historical romance available from MuseItUpPublishing.com, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online retailers. Enjoy today's preview and think about how you wish to demonstrate your love for that special someone in your life.
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“Cara mia, be sensible. You know we have no choice.” Carlo’s agonized voice broke the stillness of the cemetery. His tall, strong build, black hair, and dark eyes typified the Roman aristocrat. The red regimental dress uniform of the Pope’s Guardia Nobile intensified his good looks.
“Why does life have to be so hard? If my mother were still alive, she would never have allowed this to happen. She always liked you and we would have had her support. I would have had the hope of a better life, a life of my own choosing.” Her voice trembled with emotion and she clung to Carlo’s hand. He looked down at her, his face full of the love she’d found there for all the years she’d known him. “Hope, what a laugh. There hasn’t been any hope for us since the day your father sided with the House of Savoy. No, Carolina, we have no hope and this is the last time I will risk meeting you. Go now, it is dangerous for us both, and you need to return home before the day gets much later.” He gave her hand a brief squeeze before he removed it from his arm and turned to escort her over to where the coach waited. Her companion, Maria, and Giuseppe, the coachman who had served her mother stood waiting by the door.
“Come, Ma’donna. We must return to Rome before the Count sends someone to look for you.” Giuseppe let down the steps and helped the two women into the coach. Carolina observed the long look he gave Carlo before he climbed up to the box.
Carlo leaned his head into the carriage window. “Farewell amore mio. I’ll pray to our Heavenly Father for your safety. I leave tomorrow for my next assignment with the Guardia Nobile. I also have no choice. My family remains faithful to the Holy Father. Only those few misguided fools like your father fail to realize Vittorio Emanuele is an opportunist who offers nothing except empty promises. The rest of us still believe the future security of Italy lies with Pio Nono. You’ll see—he will triumph in the end.” Carlo stepped back and spun away in the opposite direction to mount his horse. (To be continued)