Believe in My Heart
Maria K. Alexander
(Tangled Hearts #4)
Published by: The Wild Rose Press
Publication date: November 17th 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Culinary arts student, Hope Mastriano, is down on her luck. Homeless on Thanksgiving Day, she’s caught trying to break into her cousin’s apartment by her sexy boss and lifelong secret crush.
Since getting dumped seven months ago, head chef Vinnie DiFrancesco has been in a frustrating holding pattern. He returns relaxed from a retreat, but his life is sent into a tailspin when he offers Hope, the event coordinator at his family’s trattoria, temporary housing.
With the trattoria’s traditional Italian Christmas Eve charity dinner slated to be featured on a local TV segment and things heating up in his apartment, the two must set aside their different visions to make the event a success. When a computer glitch threatens their plans, Hope proposes a risky solution. Vinnie must believe in Hope and his heart in order to secure the future of the restaurant and make it a Christmas to remember.
After finding a watering can, she filled it and watered the plants, pulling off a few dried up and yellowed leaves.
The bathroom door opened, and she jumped, sloshing water out of the can and onto the hardwood floor.
“Thanks. I forgot to ask someone to come and check on them while I was away,” Vinnie said.
“I figured. Sorry for the spill. Let me clean it up.”
She stepped toward the kitchen, but he’d already returned with a handful of paper towels.
“No big deal. I’ve got it.”
When he bent down, she caught the scent of his shower soap, crisp and woodsy. God, he smelled good. He’d shaved, and let the record say, a clean-jawed Vinnie was a beautiful sight and only further highlighted his light brown eyes. And how could she forget the full lips and dimpled cheeks. The black T-shirt he wore hugged his muscled chest and lifted up at the back when he bent down. And in snug black jeans, the rear view was almost as spectacular as the front.
Her girl parts tingled, and she bit back a groan.
He’s your boss. Thinks of you as one of the guys. Get it together.
“Did you reach Frankie?” Vinnie asked.
She shook her head. “Voicemail. Probably spending the holiday with his family. Gave him my number.”
“There anyone else you can call?”
She’d racked her brain while stranded outside Faith’s place and even called a few people, but no luck. That’s when she resorted to B&E.
“Not since my parents moved to Florida. My sister and her family live in Colorado, and Faith’s on a cruise. My brother is deployed in Afghanistan.”
“They all either have roommates or not enough room for me and Lucky. I’d ask Susie from work, but she just moved in with her boyfriend.”
And the last thing Hope needed was to hear them going at it.
“I could ask your sister, although she’s a newlywed, but her and Jamie’s place is a bit cramped. Then there’s your mom. She’s always been nice to me.”
Vinnie shook his head. “May as well stay here until you get access to Faith’s place.”
Her eyes widened. “Oh, are you sure? You just moved in and got back into town. I could probably get a room in a boardinghouse or cheap hotel.”
First thing tomorrow, she’d call the bank and see if it was too late to cancel the check she’d used to pay Steve’s December rent. She’d worked her tail off the past couple years to save every penny she earned. Splitting the rent with Steve had helped her build a small nest egg. Well, it had until he started skipping out on his half, leaving her holding the bag.
It ticked her off that now she’d need to tap into her savings—savings she had plans for—to put a deposit and a couple months’ rent down on her own place. Most of her money went toward paying for culinary school—her fourth career after getting a bachelor’s degree in computer science and hating corporate life. Then there were several other career tries, including six months working in a pet store, where she’d found and fallen in love with Lucky, and the year she’d spent bartending, which is how she’d met good ol’ Steve.
Okay, so maybe her family thought she was a bit flighty and couldn’t stick to a career, but what was wrong with exploring her options? Too many people spent their life stuck in a job they hated…just like her father. He’d missed many of Hope’s school activities due to his demanding IT job. Hope considered herself smart to have gotten out of the same field before she made the same mistake.
“Doesn’t make sense to cart all your stuff to another place and back when you get the key to Faith’s,” Vinnie said.
“Are you sure?”
“It’s fine. I spend most of my time at the trattoria, anyhow.”
“Oh, Vin, thanks.” Before she realized it, she’d launched herself into his arms. “You are a lifesaver.”
He held her tight, and she allowed herself to enjoy the feel of his hard, firm body for a few seconds before pulling back. “I promise to be quiet. You won’t even know I’m here.”
Vinnie shifted his gaze over to her stuff covering his foyer and down at the cat who rubbed against his black jeans, leaving behind a patch of white hair. “Somehow, I don’t think that’s going to be possible.”
A romantic at heart, Maria K. Alexander spent hours as a young girl getting lost in and wishing to be one of the heroines in the stories she read. Books gave her the ability to go to another world where she loved meeting new characters, learning about their problems, and watching them fall in love.
Maria is an award-winning author of contemporary romance. When not writing, Maria loves to read, bake, downhill ski, visit the beach, and watch romantic comedies. Maria lives in New Jersey with her husband and children, and writes in her “spare” time between juggling a full-time job and her kids’ busy schedules.
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