By: Natasha Knight

Chapter One


Gabrielle drove down the narrow dirt road that led to Villa Flora, the small bed and breakfast she and William had discovered while honeymooning seven years ago. They hadn't missed a year since, but this would be the first summer she would be here alone.

Tuscany was having a bad summer; it was too dry. Evidence of the drought had shocked her as she’d driven the remote road through tiny villages to the B&B. The tires stirred up a dust storm behind her as she slowed, seeing the familiar gates ahead. Once they fully opened, she drove her little Peugeot into the parking lot. Three other cars stood in the shade of the trees; it would be a quiet weekend at the B&B.

Stepping out of the car, Gabrielle opened the trunk and slung her weekend bag over her shoulder, making her way to the old, yellow structure that was the main building.

"Gabrielle," Luciana, the owner, was working on the garden when she saw her. Immediately, she took Gabrielle into a big hug and kissed her on both cheeks. "Oh, it’s been two years! How have you been since the accident, dear? I was so sorry to hear about your husband."

"Thank you," Gabrielle muttered, "I'm doing better," she lied. She knew coming back here wouldn't be easy, but she didn't want it to be; she needed it to be hard.

After an awkward moment, Luciana spoke again. "I’ve booked you in one of the new apartments. I’ll show it to you, come. You must be tired after the drive from Verona."

It had been cheaper to fly into Verona than Florence so she’d driven the four hours and, between that and the emotional toll of the trip, she was exhausted.

She followed the older woman out the door, stopping for a moment to take in the view. She could only describe it as breathtaking. The luxurious B&B was set atop a Tuscan hill where the countryside rose and fell in the typical, picturesque greens that exemplified the region.

As she followed Luciana, something, or more accurately, someone, drew her attention. She turned toward the source of the disruption, catching the gaze of the man who sat watching her, his eyes so dark, so intense that they’d done nothing less than command her to see him. He didn’t smile, but remained studying her, as if reading her thoughts. It made every hair on her body stand on end.


She startled and turned to Luciana who called from the end of the walkway. One last glance at the stranger whose eyes still hadn’t left her and she stumbled to catch up with the older woman.

The room was stunning. It was in what looked to be an old building but was actually a completely new structure in the style of a typical Tuscan villa. There were four apartments in total, all with a gorgeous view of the countryside while offering complete privacy. Just what she needed.

"Will you have lunch?" Luciana asked.

"No, I don’t think so. I’d like to swim then perhaps take a short nap. Will you have a place for me at dinner tonight?"

"Of course. Anything you need, my dear. Anything at all," Luciana said, handing over the key and closing the door behind her as she left.

Gabrielle opened all of the windows and breathed in the hot, dry air. It was all so familiar, the olive trees, the grape vines. Everything had grown just a little but it was all still so much the same.

Unpacking her bag, which contained just a few dresses, bathing suits and some sandals, she undressed and slipped on the black bikini. At thirty-two, she looked good. But then again, depression had always been the best sort of diet for her. She weighed all of one hundred and twenty pounds and stood five feet, five inches tall.

Letting her hair fall loose from its clip, she brushed the dark curls with her fingers, trying to work through the never-ending knots. Washing her face free of makeup, she grabbed a towel, her key and a book and headed to the swimming pool.

She was walking the small path through the grape vines toward the pool when she heard the other couple. They didn’t see her; they were too involved with one another. Thinking they were alone, their tongues were united in a sort of kiss that was pure sensuality. But it wasn’t so much the dance of their tongues that had her glued to the spot. It was the fact that his hand had slipped inside the bikini bottoms the tall blonde wore and his fingers worked her clit.