A tinge of chill is in the air putting us in mind of the holidays to come. It's time to start a preview of "A Love Like No Other," a HEA romance set in the holiday season. And, so, we'll begin...
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“So, G, who is Mr. Tall, Tanned, and Tasty sitting in solitary splendor at the corner table?”
Guiliana Domenico cocked an eyebrow at Ay’ana Levy. “No clue, I came back here to ask you the same question, although not in those particular words.”
“That’s because you have more class than I do.”
“You always seem to know every new man who appears in the city.”
“I’ve never seen this one—I would’ve remembered him.” Ay’ana walked over to stand next to Guiliana, and the two women, one a tall, stately African American and the other a petite redhead, stood and observed the subject of their conversation.
A handsome man in his late thirties with dark hair frosted silver at the temples, midnight blue eyes, and aquiline, aristocratic features sat at one of the smaller tables.
Something about him reminded Guiliana of a soldier even though he wore an Italian-cut business suit. His appearance and air of command characterized those mannerisms one usually associated with senior military officers or successful upper class business executives. He’d nursed a single glass of red wine for the past hour.
“Anyway, you’ve been the center of his attention since he arrived. Why don’t you go introduce yourself?” Ay’ana prodded Guiliana.
“Why, I’m not interested. He’s a handsome guy, so what?” Guiliana shrugged.
“You’re my official hostess for this shindig, so go hostess and find out who he is.”
The shindig to which Ay’ana referred, a weekly Friday afternoon reception, drew the younger crowd of congressional staffers and minor government officials. The man who’d piqued their interest appeared distinctly out of place in that milieu.
“Go on, you’re supposed to circulate, check that everything runs smoothly, and of course, add to my consequence. I’m the only caterer in the national capitol region whose hostess is a Ph.D. in Peace, War, and Diplomacy Studies.” Ay’ana buffed her fingernails against her jacket lapel, her coffee-toned face bland with mock satisfaction.
“A temporary hostess and that tells you what a Ph.D. like mine is worth these days.” Guiliana sighed in resignation. “Okay, I’ll go talk to him if for no other reason than to shut you up.” She shot one last look over her shoulder at her friend, and walked back out into the fray.
She worked the room with casual friendliness before she sauntered over to the table where the man sat.
“Good afternoon, I’m Guiliana, the hostess for today’s event. May I have one of our servers bring you something to eat?” Brilliant opening gambit, some talented, well-spoken doctor I am.
“Hello, G.” He shot her a devastating smile. “I don’t need anything, thanks.”
“How did you know my friends call me G?”
“Someone mentioned it. It’s very kind of you to lend your support to Ay’ana. I know she appreciates your help, despite her remark about you adding to her consequence.”
“What are you, psychic? You couldn’t possibly have heard that conversation.”
“No, I’m neither psychic nor omniscient, and I do appreciate you not using the tall, tanned, and tasty description.” At his words, a feeling of alarm worked its way up her spine. She glanced around the room, looking for an excuse to escape. “Please, sit down for a moment. You’re quite safe. I’m sorry I’ve made you uneasy.” His voice held the distinctive tone of command.
“Well, only for a minute. I should circulate and make sure everything runs as planned.” A twist of longing settled in the region of her heart as their gazes met. Some force she couldn’t identify compelled her to sit down with him. (To be continued)