Karen Patton’s life is falling apart. She signed divorce papers, quit her job, and moved back to her hometown into an apartment that couldn’t feel less like home. With two weeks of free time before she starts work at the Half Moon Bay Public Library, she’s crawling the walls, trying desperately not to miss the man who chose his career over her.
When an old college friend invites her to Italy for an impromptu wedding, she jumps at the chance to focus on something other than her own misery.
Tate Patton is doing his best to ignore the divorce papers that just landed on his desk. A rational, reasonable man would sign and be done with it. Instead, he seizes upon a wedding invitation to do something completely impetuous—ignore the papers and fly to Rome.
When they lay eyes on each other, the sparks fly as hot as the first time they met. Maybe the more mature versions of themselves can fix what’s broken. Their love is too strong not to try…
Karen had forgotten how vibrant the city was, especially the narrow, sloping alleys that made up the Trastevere rione where she’d gone to college and where Valentina and Gio still lived.
Karen had always loved it here. The rush of cars at a breakneck speed they’d never dare in America, the mass of people from all over the world who’d come to visit, the historic architecture, museums, and monuments. She dragged in a breath… and the tantalizing aroma of Italian food hit her nose. There was a restaurant on the bottom floor of Gio and Valentina’s building. Karen’s mouth watered, her stomach growled, and she was forcefully reminded that it would be breakfast time if she were in California. A nine hour time difference could really mess a body up.
Her old friends lived on the top floor, so Karen had stepped outside on the balcony to escape the wedding preparation madness. She was fairly certain every single female relative of Valentina’s had managed to cram themselves into the apartment. And they were loud and boisterous and happy. But mostly loud. Propping her elbows on the railing, Karen looked out over the skyline. A thousand different levels of rooflines, a few cathedral duomos, and she could just see the Vatican peeking between some of the buildings. So different from what she was used to.
A wave of laughter spilled out of the apartment, and she glanced back with a grin. They were a nice family – one who’d welcomed her for every holiday during the year she’d spent in Rome. Glancing at her watch, she saw it was well past time when she could check into her hotel.
It took her another half an hour to say goodbye to everyone because they all insisted on a hug and a kiss from her, told her how beautiful she was, how much they liked her new hairstyle, insisted she come back and join them for dinner. Finally, Valentina laughed, grabbed Karen’s elbow and thrust her out the door or she might never have escaped. She was still grinning when she hit the bottom of the staircase and entered the lobby.
And slammed into someone trying to go up the stairs. She stumbled back, an apology on her lips, but it never formed as her gaze collided with her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s.
“Tate,” she said faintly, falling back another step. “Wh-what are you doing here?”
The flash of utter shock on his face told her he’d had no idea they would both be in Rome either. He cleared his throat and shrugged. “The same thing you are, I’d imagine. Attending an old friend’s wedding.”
There was no way he’d had any more notice on the invitation than she’d had, which meant he’d done something spontaneous for the first time in years. She crossed her arms. “You dropped everything, just like that? You?”
He snorted. “Got one too many calls from Dad the night Gio invited me, so I ran away from home.”
The mere glimmer of a smile crossed her lips. “About time.”
Shaking his head, he huffed out a laugh. His gaze flitted over her. “You changed your hair.”
“Yes.” She flicked the tips with her fingers. “A new look to start my new life. I like it.”
He winced. She tried not to cringe because, really, she hadn’t meant to rub his face in it. It was just the standard response she’d come up with every time someone asked why she’d cut it.
Then there was an awkward moment where she had no idea what to say. She hadn’t expected to see him, didn’t have a list of banal conversational topics ready to save her from uncomfortable silences. “Uh… okay.” She glanced aside. “I need to go check in to my hotel. I, um, guess I’ll see you at dinner tonight.”
“Yes.” He let her get halfway across the lobby before he called out. “Out of curiosity, which hotel are you staying at?”
“Me too.” An ironic smile tilted up one corner of his mouth. “Giovanni recommended it to you too, huh?”
She pressed the tips of her fingers against her temple and rubbed at the building pain. “I may have to murder him.”
“Not if I beat you to it.” A muscle ticked in his jaw, and he waved her off. “See you at dinner.”
Then they went their separate ways. As usual.
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About the Author
Crystal Jordan is originally from California, but has lived and worked all over the United States as a university librarian. An award winning author, Crystal has published contemporary, paranormal, futuristic, and erotic romance with Kensington Aphrodisia, Harlequin Spice Briefs, Ellora’s Cave, and Samhain Publishing.
I recently asked her a few questions about her writing and inspirations. Here’s what she had to say.
How long have you been writing erotica, and what inspired you to get into this genre?
While my book has been labeled as erotica, all of my books have a happily-ever-after ending, so I’ve always mentally put my work more in the erotic romance category. I range from steamy to full-on filthy, but there’s always a happy ending (in every sense of the word!).
Back when I first starting writing romance – a chick lit paranormal and it had NO sex – I was stumped on my novel and getting seriously bored with spinning my wheels. So I took a break from the book and gave myself a challenge: write something completely different. I went for an erotic contemporary short story. To my surprise, it all came together really well and it sold to a publisher a month later. So there I was, published, but in a whole different genre than expected! The rest is history.
What gave you the idea for your latest book?
My own travels! The entire Destination: Desire series is inspired by the traveling my boyfriend and I have done together. It’s been really fun to write.
Who are some of your favorite erotica writers or other literary inspirations?
For my paranormal worldbuilding, I’ve learned so much from reading Robin D. Owens’ Heart Mate series. She explores new aspects of the planet Celta with every book, so the world gets a little bigger and more detailed each time you open a new book. Like one book explored the justice system, another religion, another aristocracy and class, another the social season, etc. I’ve always thought this was the best way to write a series and a paranormal world, without info-dumping every idea onto your readers in book one. Keep people coming back for more.
For straight up erotic naughtiness, I like Robin L. Rotham. Because I’ve written so much filthy sex, it’s hard to make me go “oooh, this is HOT,” but she manages every time.
Plus, both Robins are just fabulous people I’ve known for years now, and it’s so nice when the books you love are written by equally lovely people. Makes me love the stories even more.
Describe your typical writing routine. Where do you usually write?
At my desk in my awesome ergonomic desk chair. I *heart* this chair so hard.
How many words/pages do you write per day? Do you keep set hours? What does your workspace look like?
I work full-time, so I try to do about 1,000 words per day on weekdays and more on weekend days. How much more really depends on how close my current deadline is looming at the time.
I just moved in with my boyfriend and we’re sharing an office, so my work space has radically changed in the last month, but right now I’m at this really nifty table he imported from Germany years ago. It’s adjustable and can be as low as a coffee table and as high as a dining table. Since I’m pretty short, most “normal” desks are too tall for me, so this is great because I can set the height any way I want. My new desk faces our back window and I have a vase of sunflowers he bought for me sitting beside my monitor and a cup of tea steaming at my elbow.
Do you have any favorite foods or beverages that help keep your
Tea! I’m half-English so I was raised on the stuff. I like it black with milk and sweetener, but I can’t do caffeine in the afternoon, so I either decaffeinate my black tea or I go for herbals like chamomile or peppermint. I just found a new tea blender on Etsy (my old tea lady went out of business, sadly). So, yes, on weekends, I start the day with a cup of tea, check emails and social networks, and then it’s on to writing.
Do you have any writing superstitions or rituals when starting (or ending) a new book?
No, not really. I have my tea/writing habits, but I don’t write my stories in order, so I could be working on the ending today, Chapter 3 tomorrow, and the beginning some time next week. Basically, my writing process looks like chaos to most people, so my only ritual is to get words on the page. Any words from any part of the book.
Two of my favorite writing quotes are: “It can all be fixed in edits,” and “You can’t edit a blank page” (I think both of these come from Nora Roberts, but I’m not 100% sure). Combine these quotes and it’s just about getting words on the page and trying to freak out as little as possible. The freak outs give you writing blocks. So I guess I try not to have superstitions or rituals that might trip up my word-making.
What do you think makes for a good erotic story?
The couple’s (or trio’s or quad’s, etc) relationship has to be built through the sex as much as anything else. Just tacking on sex scenes for no reason comes across as gratuitous. You can learn a lot about people in bed. What they like or don’t like, what issues or hang ups they have about sex, what boundaries can be pushed, what role they play – dominant, submissive, kinks and fetishes. All of these things are part of a person and, in erotic stories, an author gets to explore this. The sex becomes another part of the storytelling.
What’s your favorite euphemism for genitalia?
Nipples, cock, dick, pussy, and clit. I like the classics!
What are some of your non-writing hobbies or interests?
For the second book in my Destination: Desire series, Hawaiian Holiday, I had a fiber artist as a heroine, so I took some knitting classes to get a feel for what she did and I got completely hooked. So now I knit and crochet for fun. I also read when I have time – I need to try audiobooks so I can do books and crafting at the same time!
My guy and I travel as much as we can. I got my passport a month before I met him because I was determined to see more of the world. He helped me put the first stamp in it. Total keeper, don’t you think?
What else have you written, and where can people learn more about you and your work?
I have about 50 books out now (I stopped counting after 30, to be honest, but I think I’m near 50-ish), from short stories to novels, so there’s a lot of selection for readers. I keep a full list on my website, www.crystaljordan.com.
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