The Album Book 2 - Pauline’s Story
Contemporary, Fantasy Romance
When Ella hands over The Album to Pauline, the young food blogger is about to embark on an adventure of a lifetime—she’s been chosen as a contestant in The Culinary Dream, a TV cooking competition. Pauline takes The Album with her to Italy where the filming is to take place and meets food photographer, Xaden, the brother of the man who ripped out her heart and put her off relationships for a long time.
To her dismay, she gets eliminated from the competition on the first round. Humiliated and determined not to be pitied by her friends and family, she decides to stay behind in Italy for a holiday as well as blog about her restaurant experiences in the exotic European country.
Xaden won't leave her alone and proves to be a friend in a time of need but when he kisses her, she pushes him away, afraid he’ll hurt her like his brother did. The TV series offers her a job as the editor of the food magazine and she is to work alongside the very man she wishes to avoid. Forced to be with the man she can't resist but whom her instincts tell her she can't trust, Pauline is in for an emotional roller-coaster ride with The Album as her companion and guide.
Without thinking too deeply about her potential response, he walked round to face her and found her eyes red and cheeks blotchy.
“Are you okay?”
Had she heard bad news from home? Would she have to leave the competition prematurely? Had the stress gotten to her? Maybe it would be a good thing for his career if she left soon. He couldn’t afford to make a mistake in his first big deal, his first breakthrough.
Her eyes enlarged and she sucked in a breath, but he refused to let Roan’s wild oats sown in her heart destroy his chance to help the tender woman.
“No, of course not. How would you feel?”
His heart sank. Had she been eliminated on the first round?
“You don’t know?”
“I didn’t stay for the judges’ session. That was for John and Kyle.”
“Well…” She shrugged. “I suppose I didn’t have enough experience. Who was I kidding?”
Her blue eyes sparkled with freshly produced tears and his heart squeezed. He hated that she looked even more beautiful when her emotions came to the fore. Made him feel guilty for the male need rising up within him so suddenly—the arousal brought on by her own disappointment. Oh, he’d felt that suffocating feeling taking over his soul before. Disappointment had taunted him many times.
“But your food looked the best. I thought you’d win.”
She laughed cynically. “Yeah, right. I’m sure you didn’t think that. What do you want, Xaden?”
If she were a harder woman, those words would have come out sarcastic and bitter. Instead, she sounded so weary, so defeated.
“Come with me.” He held out his hand, desire to touch her flooding his being. “I want to show you a part of Italy. A part of Bologna I’ve secretly wanted to explore but haven’t had the time.”
His heart raced as she rose up with his tug. Confusion blanked her expression, though. Then she shook her head.
“No, definitely not. And why would you have time now?”
“Well, you have all the time in the world. When do you go back home?”
“I don’t know.” She was trying terribly hard to hold back the tears. Within a moment, he held her in his arms and tried to ease the shudder of suppressed sadness against his chest. Her soft hair brushed against his arms, sending spirals of longing which brought visions of kissing her, weaving his fingers through her hair to her scalp.
“I didn’t think I wanted it so badly,” she whimpered into his shoulder. “When I caught my first flight, I thought I’d made a mistake. But being here, amongst all the other contestants, meeting people who have the same passion as me, watching the MortadellaBò festival, feeling Italy and tasting its food, I really wanted to stay here. For a long time. Why am I telling you this?” She pulled away and wiped her wet eyes, anger sparking from her gaze.
“Because I care.”
Once again, a frown filled her freckled forehead. “How can you care? You don’t even know me.”
“I’ve been watching you.”
“You told me you only liked my photos. Not me.”
He took her hand and she didn’t yank hers away. It was so small, so delicate, so sweet. “Well, I lied. When you said you’d been with Roan, I was ashamed. I—”
“I have to go.” She spun away and ran to the exit, her heels clomping on the tiled flooring.
The sun said its final goodbyes, plunging the city in semi-darkness.
Kathy lives in South Africa, where the summers are hot, the winters cool and bugs thrive. She writes romance in many forms, most of the time with women who feel deeply, men who care strongly and characters who learn lessons along the way. Every so often, she sprinkles a little magic in her stories. When she’s not writing, she makes sure her kids work hard as they do school at home, tries not to get too distracted by dust bunnies and cooks up a storm to keep the tummies full. When she’s not hectically busy, she loves reading romance and fantasy novels, watching movies, and dabbling in different crafty things, depending on her mood.
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Online Links for Kathy:
Website and blog: http://www.kathybosman.com/
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/KathleenBosman
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Book 1 in the series.
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