Tag Archives: Hidden Heart

Mondays are for Excerpts

21 Jul


It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter how she felt toward him or what could become of them. She had baggage. She carried someone else’s baby. It wouldn’t be fair to drag Alessandro into this mess.

Wrong timing had somehow become her mantra.

Tessa stood and straightened her shoulders in an attempt to brush off the panic that constricted her heart. I will be all right.

Someone cleared his throat close by.

“Are you okay?” Alessandro handed her a glass of champagne.

She thought of refusing it, then changed her mind and accepted it. She didn’t drink. Instead she toyed with its long stem.

“Yes, I’m okay.” She sighed. “Look, Alessandro . . . I . . . I’m tired. Thanks for the drink, I better go now.” She left the glass on the banister and walked away.

“Please, don’t.” He grabbed her wrist, then let it go. He looked into his own glass, and pushed a hand through his hair.

The gesture looked so familiar. How she’d love to do that, sink her fingers in his thick hair. “I . . . I have a feeling I scare you. I just want to make sure you aren’t running off on my account.”

She weighed her words. “To be honest, yes you do scare me. I just can’t handle you one minute warm and fuzzy and next colder than ice, I just don’t do well with mood swings like this. I like to know what to expect from people and with you it’s impossible, and quite frankly it’s exhausting.”

“I’m so sorry for all the times I couldn’t be myself around you. I know the past few weeks have been a nightmare for you because of the accusations, but things are about to change.”

“Are they?”

“Yes. As you know, I don’t like to mix work with pleasure, but given the circumstances, I’ll make an exception. I’ll no longer be part of the investigation.” He sighed then pushed a hand through his hair. He looked nervous.

Tessa flinched at the heavy feeling settling in her tummy. Someone else would take over and put her through hell. Accuse her of something she didn’t do. She’d be sent to jail, pregnant and all alone.

“Oh my . . . ” Her knees buckled.

Alessandro helped her sit on the nearby bench. They fell silent for a while.

Tessa fought back tears, absorbing the news. She looked up at the sky and forced a smile. “It’s funny how when I first saw you in the office, I feared your presence. Now, I panic, knowing you aren’t going to be there anymore.” She looked at him and asked, “May I ask you why?”

“Well, there were some vital facts that I had to take into consideration and I realized I can’t go any further without jeopardizing something very important to me.” He placed his glass on the banister, then rested his elbows on his knees and looked sideways at her.

Tessa understood. He believed her guilty and their history put him in an awkward situation. His job was very important to him, yet pointing his finger at her made it that much harder to finish off the investigation. She couldn’t blame him for not wanting to have anything to do with her, with her messy situation. She stood.

“Tessa,” Alessandro stood and faced her. “I . . . I don’t know how to say it, I—” He folded his hands in prayer, pressed them against his lips and closed his eyes. He struggled to find his words. He opened his eyes, “I haven’t been in or desired to be in a relationship since my wife died.” His eyes bore into hers, then he looked at her lips. “I have not wanted a relationship, until now, Tessa.”


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Mondays are for Excerpts

14 Jul


“I sure hope that there’s a good explanation for this!” Tessa stormed in Alessandro’s office and tossed at him several papers.

“Good morning would’ve been a pleasant way to start our conversation or a knock on my door would’ve been even nicer. What can I do for you?” he leaned back in his chair and interlaced his fingers as his elbows rested on the chair’s arms.

“This is not funny, Mister Santinelli, but let’s see. I stopped this morning to get gas and tried to pay with my card and I can’t, because guess what? My account has been blocked. And then, I call my bank and they tell me that no withdrawal can be made until further notice. I’m thinking, it must be a mistake, so they pass my call to the supervisor and when she tells me the same story, I demand to talk to the director and he tells me he too is sorry for the inconvenience but they received a note requesting my bank activity for the past six months to look for illegal transactions. Do you have any idea what embarrassment you’ve caused me? How am I supposed to live without money?”

She paced his office, one hand on her hip, the other on her forehead. She didn’t see him closing the door and stopping in the middle of the room while she walked right by him.

Alessandro waited for her to stop pacing. He held her papers. Face to face, they stared at each other for a while.

She threw her hands in the air and then slapped her thighs. “Well?”

“Sorry you found out this way. I tried to move as fast as I could, unfortunately it got out of hand. I wish there was a different way to solve this problem, but I don’t have much I can use for the investigation.”

“And you decided it was okay to block my accounts? How many times do I have to say I. Did. Not. Take. The. Money? And what happened to the investigation being on hold?”

“Ms. Cosma . . . Tessa . . . As harsh as it sounds, we need to find out where the money went, because it didn’t end up in the farmers’ hands, that’s for sure.” He brushed a hand through his hair, caught his forehead between his thumb and his index finger and squeezed his eyes shut. Then he opened them as he rubbed the back of his neck. He seemed to be in pain.

“How do you know? How could you figure out they didn’t receive the money? I was there with them, in the notary’s office, handing them the money. It didn’t by some mysterious way end up in my purse, for God’s sake!” She took a step closer, snapped the papers from him and walked away.

“Wait, Tessa, wait, let’s talk.”

She stopped and came back to confront him. “There’s nothing you can say that would change this mess. This is Romania and you foreigners come here and think that you can operate the same way you do in your countries. But the truth is, if any of you would take the time to find out, we do so many things differently. You might think closing my accounts will clear once the investigation is over and I can use that bank happily ever after. But I won’t. Next to my name there’re red flags being drawn as we speak and I can never go back there. I’ll have to switch to another bank. Did you know that up until three years ago, no Romanian knew what a debit or a credit card was or how to use it?”

She saw his eyebrows drawn together and the astonishment in his eyes. She sighed and shook her head. “I thought so. I just wished you’d tell me what you plan to do. I would’ve brought you my bank statements. I’ve nothing to hide because I didn’t take the money.”

She felt defeated. She closed her eyes trying to fight back tears. When Alessandro’s palms clasped around her shoulders, she opened them.

“Tessa, listen to me. I had no idea this was going to happen. I’m so sorry, believe me. I thought it’d take me a few days top to verify your transactions, see the pattern of your expenses, see something that would put the accusations to rest.” He squeezed her shoulders and bowed closer to her face. “I’m not your enemy here, you must believe me.”

She peeled his hands off her shoulders, one by one then walked away. Before she left, she looked at him one more time. “But you’re not my friend either.”

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Mondays are for Excerpts

7 Jul


At ten o’clock, Tessa said her goodbyes and walked to her car. A whole day in bed was the only thing on her mind.

She untied her ponytail and massaged her scalp. She shook her head and the hair spilled onto her bare shoulders, down her back. It felt so good.

“I’ll drive you home.” Out of nowhere, Alessandro showed up behind her; he grabbed her elbow moving her towards the passenger side. He opened the door, but she didn’t get in the car.

She couldn’t figure out how he knew when she came or went and how he could move around without noise.

“No thanks, I can handle it alone.” Tessa stopped. She hoped her icy voice would freeze him at once. His closeness radiated heat and the urge to touch him almost blocked her senses. “I believe someone else is waiting for you to take her home.” She bit her lower lip, regretting the words, but she couldn’t take it back; she raised her chin in defiance.

“Jealous?” Alessandro’s grin infuriated her even more.

She pulled her elbow away and the motion made her breast brush his chest.

Alessandro stepped forward and placed his feet between hers, pushing her back against the car.

She held her breath, her eyes locked on his.

Without any warning, he took her head between his big palms and crushed her lips; his tongue ravished her mouth and claimed obedience.

A sweet heat rose in her belly and a quick rush of adrenaline invaded her starved body; she couldn’t get enough of his embrace, his kiss.

“Please, get in the car,” he whispered in a husky voice, breaking the kiss and pushing her gently into her seat. He walked around, stepped in, adjusted his seat and drove away, tires screeching.

Tessa’s head still spun from the hungry kiss they shared. She could no longer deny or ignore the physical attraction.

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Mondays are for Excerpts

30 Jun


“Well, well, look who’s here,” a drunken Daniel said, his words slurred. “Now I know why you aren’t answering your phone. You’re too busy having fun, aren’t ya?” He almost fell, but regained his balance, trying to hold onto her arm.

She looked horrified and tried to say something, but fear paralyzed her voice.

Alessandro, as if on cue, placed himself between Daniel and her, “Do not touch her.” His low and controlled voice caught Daniel’s attention.

“Who the hell you think you are?” Daniel asked, again losing his balance.

“It doesn’t matter who I am. You’re in no condition to speak to a lady,” Alessandro said.

“This is no lady. This is my woman and you’re the one who needs to leave. My woman and I have to talk. Besides, you’re in Romania, speak Romanian,” Daniel said.

“Daniel, please leave. We’re done talking.” Tessa came from behind Alessandro’s back and walked past the two men without looking at either of them. “Don’t make a fool of yourself. Go home. You’re drunk.”

That was an understatement and for a moment Daniel seemed to be surprised by her words. “I’ll leave if you promise to call me tomorrow. You must listen to what I have to say.”

She opened the building door and said, “Fine. Now go,” and then toward Alessandro, “Thank you for bringing me home, good night,” and closed the door behind her.

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Mondays are for Excerpts

23 Jun


On her way to the elevator, she made a stop in Alessandro’s office. He signaled for her to enter while he talked on the phone. He spoke Italian and Tessa understood very little.

How can someone’s voice sound so sexy? He looks great with or without clothes on. Come on, Tessa, snap out of it, you’re here for business and not for daydreaming, for God’s sake!

“Ms. Cosma, what can I do for you?” Alessandro finished his conversation then glanced up at her before starting typing on his laptop.

Mister Santinelli, how long are you going to keep up this masquerade?”

“I’ve no idea what you’re talking about.”

“You know exactly what I’m talking about. First, you pretend not to recognize me, then you call me a coward, then you intervene with my dinner plans. I don’t appreciate it and for your information, thanks, but no thanks. I don’t need a babysitter. What do you think you’re doing?” She propped both palms on his desk, then leaned forward.

He stood and copied her body position.

Two players face-to-face weighing each other’s strength. Who’d make the next move?

Alessandro searched her face, lingering on her lips.

Tessa licked them instinctively.

“What I think is not important for our business arrangement. In Victor’s absence I have authority to lead this office. You have the wrong impression, Ms. Cosma. I assure you my coming to dinner tonight is not to babysit you, but to ensure our possible investor is well taken care of.”

“You don’t trust me, is that it?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“You think I’d compromise the deal? You think I stole the farmers’ money and I’ll steal again.”

“Again, you put words in my mouth, words I didn’t say.”

Tessa glanced to his lips. God, how much she’d wanted to crush them! She forced herself to look down; she saw a tennis ball with a non-identifiable signature sitting on a small pedestal right between her palms. She took it and toyed with it while walking away. She stopped at the door, and turned to face him.

“I’m here because Victor asked me to help out with this deal. I need the freedom to move unrestrained, make decisions as I see fit. I have no idea why you called me a coward, but if you think I’ll go down without a fight, you have something coming. Someone trashed my reputation, I’ll die finding out who, but I will find out.” She threw the tennis ball back at him.

With expert moves, he caught it in the air without even flinching. 

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Mondays are for Excerpts

16 Jun


As Tessa walked in the house, she heard music playing and voices in the bedroom. She passed the kitchen, down the hall toward the bedroom and then heard a female voice saying, “If she knew, we’d both be in trouble,” followed by giggles.

A sinking feeling in her stomach, Tessa stopped confused. That voice sounded familiar, who was it?

Then she heard Daniel, “Don’t you worry, dear, she isn’t coming back until Friday. We have the house to ourselves.” 

She opened the bedroom door on Daniel with another woman, both naked and drinking wine atop rumpled bed sheets. She only saw the woman’s back.

Daniel froze with his glass of wine halfway to his mouth. He jumped out of the bed, pulled his shorts on and grabbed Tessa by the shoulders.

“Oh my God, this is not what you think,” he exclaimed and turned her around toward the living room. He guided her to the sofa and helped her sit down.

For the second time that day, Tessa’s world had turned upside down. Shock numbed her senses.

Daniel knelt in front of her and held her hands between his. “Tessa, it’s a mistake, it means nothing. I . . . I didn’t expect you back.”

Emptiness rose in Tessa’s heart and soul, no feelings whatsoever left inside. This was simply too much. The sudden urge to vomit made her jump and run to the bathroom.

He followed her and after she vomited, he tried to help her up but she pushed him away.

“Leave.” No rage, no emotion, nothing behind her words.

By the time Tessa returned to the living room, Daniel waited for her fully dressed. The other woman was gone.

“I cannot tell you how sorry I am. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I thought you were on your way to Vienna . . . it doesn’t mean anything to me, it’s you I love,” he pleaded.

She looked at him and saw a stranger. “How long?”

He didn’t answer right away scratched the back of his head and said, “It’s not important, she means nothing to me. Look, Tessa, I know I have some issues, but I do love you, you have to believe me and give me another chance. I can change, just let me prove it to you.”

He tried to get closer and hug her, but she pushed him away. “Do. Not. Try. That. Ever. You have two hours to remove all your stuff from my apartment. I’ll change the locks afterward and throw away whatever is not taken. Do not call me ever again, and if you ever see me, you better walk on the other side of the street,” Tessa said with an infinite burning rage behind her voice. She turned, fury driving her actions, grabbed her keys and purse and stormed out the apartment.

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Mondays are for Excerpts

9 Jun


“Victor said you need to stop by the office before you leave for Vienna. He said it’s urgent.” Eva poked her head in Tessa’s office and left the door open behind her.

“What is it now? My plane leaves in two hours and I haven’t even packed.” Tessa sighed and shoved a handful of files in her bag, then walked out of her office.

“Good morning,” Victor invited her in. “Have a seat.”

“Thanks, I’m good,” Tessa neared his desk but didn’t sit. “I need to be at the airport, so what’s the emergency?” When she looked at Victor she realized something was wrong. He avoided looking at her but got up and walked to face her.

“You know I’ve always been very frank with you, and I’ve to tell you something that’s very difficult for me,” Victor began. He sighed and loosened his blue tie. “Someone else will take over your projects and—”

“Wait! What? Tessa shouted. “Why?”

“I’ve been asked to suspend you,” Victor replied, dread in his voice.

“Suspend me? Weeks ago you announced I’d replace and now you’re going to suspend me? Is this a joke?” She clenched her fists ready to confront Victor.

He walked out of the room to ask his secretary something, then left the door open and came to the middle of the room to face Tessa.

“Our headquarters have sent someone to investigate your case.” He stopped and waited for the gentleman entering the room to join him. “Tessa, this is Mr. Alessandro Santinelli from the Alita Bank & Investments. As you remember, our company didn’t have the necessary cash flow to finalize the land acquisition. Alita Bank & Investments is the bank that loaned us the cash. He’ll conduct the investigation in your case.”

Tessa looked puzzled from one face to the other. The world crumbled before her eyes.

Alessandro? Here?

The man she abandoned in a hotel room after a passionate night?

Investigating her case?

What case?

She needed support for her wobbly knees and before she fell, Alessandro caught her and helped her sit. She looked into his eyes and saw nothing. No expression, no recognition, no emotion—nothing.

With the last sign of dignity left, she spoke in a calm tone, “I understand there is a case and I’m the suspect. May I ask what’s the nature of this investigation?”

Alessandro spoke in the same voice that reminded her of a lover’s whisper. “You’ve been accused of fraud.”

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Mondays are for Excerpts

2 Jun


“What I want to let everyone know is that I’ve decided to step down from my position as director of the Titan Project Development office here in Bucharest and I’d like to introduce to you the new director . . . Anastassia Cosma, or as many of you know her, Tessa Cosma.”

The room exploded in applause and cheers. Victor let the cheering go for a couple more minutes then made a sign and soon the room fell quiet again.

“Nine months from now I’ll send you all greeting cards from the French Riviera, a cigar in one hand and a brandy in the other, but most important I will not think of any business, any contract, or even of you.”

Laughter from around the room interrupted his speech, but he again demanded attention and continued, “And you know why? It’s because I know that the company will be in the best hands I could possibly trust, in the right place and with the right commander. For those of you who know Tessa, you know that she’s a beautiful woman, with a brilliant mind and big heart, but a tigress when it comes to business. She’d show her claws in a split second. Fear her and don’t try playing games; her sweet smile is just a mask. Now that I said what I had to say, please join me in congratulating the new director of our company!”

Victor put the microphone down and reached to help Tessa stand. He shook her hand, then hugged her for a few seconds and stepped aside, for others to come around and congratulate her.

Tessa felt like a truck had hit her. She had no idea Victor wanted to retire so soon, nor that she’d replace him. Her mind swirled and struggled to respond to all the questions people asked her, shake their hands and accept their congratulations.

“What an incredible surprise, dear,” Daniel said when he finally caught her in his arms. He took her hand and walked to the dance floor and moved with her in the slow rhythm of the music.

“I feel like I’m dreaming and soon I’ll wake up. I mean, I had no idea he wanted me to replace him . . . can you imagine?” Tessa leaned against Daniel’s strong body—she still shook from the big news Victor just shared minutes ago.

“I’m so proud of you,” Daniel whispered in her ear. “You’re incredible and you deserve it.”


She looked into his green eyes trying to read his mind. He looked good dressed in his black tuxedo, white shirt and black bowtie. There were many nights they argued about her extended work hours and constant traveling. He’d complained about it so many times; hard to believe that after all these years and so many arguments, Daniel finally accepted and agreed to share her with her work.

“You know this means I’ll be away from home even more, longer trips, longer work hours . . . can we survive this change?”

He twirled her twice releasing her from his arms, then brought her back and said, “Nice presents would help me forget about my lonely nights.” He winked at her and smiled while the band switched to an up-tempo rhythm and more couples joined them on the dance floor.

“You know, I feel I’m in the best place of my life, ever. I have you, an amazing job, I have friends and family that love me and I love them back. This incredible feeling of ha—”

“Tessa, here you are! Come, we must hurry!” Eva grabbed her arm while Daniel held onto her other arm.

“Hey, I’m dancing, can you just wait until the dance is over?”

Tessa tried to free her wrist, but Eva had a strong grip on it and didn’t let go. She looked over her shoulder at Daniel, who let go and backed off. She had no choice but follow Eva out of the room.

“Jesus Christ, are you crazy? Can you just stop and tell me what’s the matter?”

But Eva didn’t reply right away, still holding Tessa’s wrist, walking faster and faster. “We must go. Now. It’s urgent.” Eva hurried outside the hotel. A cab waited for them and she opened the door, dragging Tessa inside.

“Emergency Room, Floreasca Hospital, please.”

Tessa froze hearing the address. A knot formed in her stomach and her throat, and when she spoke, she didn’t recognize her own voice.

“Is it my mama?”


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Goodreads Giveaway

28 May

Don’t miss out on this amazing giveaway for 10 signed copies + bookmarks!


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Hidden Heart by Camelia Miron Skiba

Hidden Heart

by Camelia Miron Skiba

Giveaway ends June 24, 2014.

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Starting a new series–Mondays are for Excerpts

26 May

Hey peeps!

Here we are almost 5 years into my writing and 3 since my debut novel HIDDEN HEART saw the daylight. 4 novels later I’m still arguing with my heroes, finding new ideas in as much as a photo and continuing on this journey of writing romance.

I absolutely love it when I connect with readers from all over the globe. This site here is where anyone can find me. Recently I thought about adding a little spice to our relationship, you know, just to make it fresh again ;)

In doing so I decided to use Mondays for excerpts. Today’s excerpt is from HIDDEN HEART:

Tessa bent over the balcony’s banister and looked into the darkness below. Her feet hurt. Dancing for an entire hour on high-heels no longer seemed like a good idea.

“Nice evening. Would you care for some champagne?” asked a thickly accented Italian voice.

Tessa straightened and turned. To her surprise, a handsome stranger stopped close to her, a bottle of champagne in one hand and two glasses in the other. The same stranger from the sky gondola, the same man she’d clung to for dear life only hours ago.

“You speak English!” Her voice sounded jittery and she hated it. Oh, God, I’m in trouble, so much trouble! Telling him earlier what she’d do with him, to him was one thing; him understanding was different, totally different. Butterflies filled her stomach and her heart drummed like the staccato bass of the music. Her cheeks burned with embarrassment as she covered her face with both hands, then peeked through her fingers.

A playful spark ignited his dark eyes while he tried to conceal a grin, failing miserably. He poured champagne in one glass and offered it to her. She accepted it with shaky hands, and took a sip. Sweet, bubbly, expensive—her taste exactly.

“Yes, as a matter of fact I do.” His voice had a buttery tone sounding like a lover’s whisper. He poured champagne for himself and placed the bottle on the nearby banister. He inclined his head while sensual lips curved in a smile that revealed perfect teeth. Clinking his glass to hers, he said, “Happy birthday!”

Words had never failed Tessa.

Until now.

Would she ever regain her voice?

“I met Carlo, your friend at the bar.” He shrugged one shoulder with a sheepish grin. “We Italians tend to make friends fast. He told me about your birthday. I’m glad the scare earlier did not stop you from celebrating.”

Coming out of his mouth, English never sounded more alluring spoken with the sensual Italian accent.

“My name is Alessandro, Alessandro Santinelli.”

“Anastassia, Tessa Cosma. I’m from Romania, but here with my friends on vacation.”

He tilted his head, took her extended hand, lifted it to his lips and kissed it with infinite gentleness. His lips felt warm and smooth on her hand, a touch that made her stomach tighten. Under any other circumstance, Tessa would’ve thought the gesture old fashioned, and perhaps would’ve burst out laughing, but coming from this man, it seemed smooth, gracious and right.

“How is your shoulder?”

“Oh, much better, thank you. I kept a pack of ice on it.” Tessa rubbed her sore shoulder. The memory of her body pressed against his rushed through her mind. “So, you . . . where did you learn English so well?”

He raised one eyebrow and smiled. “As a child, my parents let me watch cartoons in English, but I didn’t understand a word. Since Batman was my favorite, I had no choice but master the language.” Alessandro looked like a child that just discovered ice cream. “How about you?”

Tessa smiled. “I had a crush on my English teacher. He looked like Alain Delon, you know, the French actor. I figured if I did all my homework and studied hard, he’d notice me.”

“Did he?”

She laughed, throwing her head back. “I doubt it.”

Alessandro chuckled. “So, you’re from Romania, one of the oldest country in Europe. It’s on my to-visit list. How is it there?”

“It’s nice, I guess. Depends on what you’re expecting from such a trip, what you’re looking for.”

“I always wanted to see the ruins of Sarmisegetuza and hike the Carpathians.” Alessandro brushed a hand  through  his hair then sampled his champagne. His eyes never left her face.

Is he hitting on me? Alessandro seemed a remarkable, intelligent man. Too bad she didn’t believe in long-distance relationships. Grateful he tried to make her comfortable and forget about her blunt outburst hours ago, Tessa knew she needed to clear her name.

“Alessandro, listen. About earlier today . . .” She drummed her nails on the champagne glass and looked inside as if a jinni would jump to her rescue. Attempting to win back her dignity she continued, “I had no idea you understood what I was saying, otherwise I would’ve never said what I did, but I . . . you have to forgive me for being so silly. I’m really sorry.”

A half-crooked, irresistible smile spread over his lips. “And I am not. Fulfilling the first part of your wish wasn’t that hard, was it?” He lifted his glass and pointed toward it. “Shall we dance?” 

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