Tag Archives: Hidden Heart

Blog Hop–Stuck In A Good Book

20 Sep

Here we are again with a blog hop this time organized by Kathy @ I’m A Reader Not A Writer and Valerie @ Stuck in A Good Book and as it happens the theme of this hop is … Stuck In A Good Book. This hop runs between September 20th through the 25th and every single site signed up to participate has amazing prizes, so I hope you’ll stop by and see what they have to offer.


Readers all over the world have told me that they get stuck in my books so I’m using this opportunity to offer one e-copy each of all of them: Hidden Heart (contemporary romance), A World Apart (military romance), Born In Vengeance and Born In Sin (from the Dacian Legends series, ancient worlds romance) and latest novel, Me Tarzan–You Jane (NA contemporary romance).

poster for the house

What you have to do to win? Simple: either become a follower on Twitter @CamiSkibaOR follow this blog by clicking on the button to the right called “Sign me up!” (atop all images) OR become a fan on FB and leave a comment with the title of a book you got stuck in.

Enjoy hoping and good luck!

Mondays are for Excerpts

3 Nov


“Sorry I took advantage of knowing where the spare key was and . . . I was too tired to drive back. I promise I’ll get up early tomorrow and leave,” he mumbled visibly embarrassed to be caught in her cabin.

She sat at the table, placed the jar down and rested her palms on her lap.

“It’s okay,” she said, staring at her fingers, then up at him.

“Tessa, listen . . . I have . . . my reaction earlier was unfair to you, to what you’ve been through. I assume you’re mad at me and you have every right to be. I left your house wanting to get away from you and I ended up here. No matter what I do, or where I go, I come back to you . . .” he brushed a hand through his hair, holding the other on his hip.

Tessa shrugged one shoulder. His words shocked her. An apology that sounded like a love declaration? Did she hear him right?

“All this time I believed the baby was mine. I totally freaked out when I heard about the abortion. I’m sorry I was so judgmental.” He shuffled his weight from one foot to the other, sighing, clenching his jaw.

“There are a few things you forgot here a t-shirt, jeans and a toothbrush,” Tessa said. “You’ll find them in the spare bedroom downstairs.”

“Great. I’ll be out of your way,” Alessandro offered and turned to walk away.

“It’s not nice to make people wait in front of your house for hours,” Tessa tilted her head, looking sideways at him, then back at her fingers. “And if someone calls you until your voicemail is full, maybe they have something important to say. You might consider returning the calls.”

He turned and stopped on the kitchen’s threshold. “You went to my house?”


She looked at him and once again her heart melted at the way he looked at her, his face lit up, a slow smile at the corners of his mouth.

“Did you . . . did you like it?”

“It’s okay, I guess, but the fence has to go,” she laughed softly. “And the yellow color, it’s too pale compared with the dark green shutters, I think.”

He came and knelt in front of her, his eyes sparkling like dewdrops. He took one of her hands and caressed the back of it with his thumb.

Butterflies filled up her stomach. “I’m not a bad person, Alessandro,” she whispered.

“I know.”

“It’s true, I wanted an abortion, but I couldn’t do it. I guess I’ve been punished enough for my ugly thoughts afterward, but I didn’t kill my baby . . .” She looked down at his hand caressing hers. She pushed a strand of hair behind her ear, tears rolling down her face. “I’m only human, I’ve made mistakes, but I paid for them. If you want to judge me for thinking ill, then I can’t stop you. I just wanted to make sure you know I do love you, I always did,” Tessa murmured, at last revealing her hidden heart.

Alessandro helped her stand. He cupped her face and brushed a thumb over her lips. The anticipation of his kiss made her heart throb, her knees weak.

“I love you more,” he said, sealing his words with a kiss and scooping her in his arms—the place where she belonged.

HH for web

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Mondays are for Excerpts

27 Oct


Alessandro took off like a mad runner. He got into his car and drove away. He drove faster and faster, holding onto the steering wheel with both hands, so tight his fingernails dug into his palms. He dodged a traffic light turning red while he was in the middle of the intersection, but he didn’t care. He drove for hours with no direction, sometimes in circles, speeding up until he reached the town’s limit, but he didn’t stop. He just kept driving, driving away, further away from her.

“An abortion, she wanted to have an abortion,” he said aloud. “How could she?”

Ever since he’d met Tessa his life had been turned upside down. In fact, his life wasn’t his anymore. His life revolved around her, like the moon around the earth. No matter where he was or what he did, his thoughts gravitated to her, his mind humming her name, his heart drowning with love.

But it turned out Tessa had secrets. He grieved for a baby that wasn’t even his. He’d thought of that baby many times, and how devastated Tessa must’ve been when she lost it. But no, she wasn’t devastated because she’d planned an abortion. How could he fall in love with a cold-blooded woman and not know what a selfish creature she was? How did she manage to deceive him so much?

As a Catholic, Alessandro considered abortion among the worst of all crimes. He grew up in a family where children were considered a blessing, the more the better. A family where dinners were often interrupted by crying babies, by running and screaming around the table, but never ever, did one pronounce the word “abortion”. How could he forgive her?

He stopped, turned off the engine and the lights and sat there. Surrounded by darkness and silence, he pressed his head to the steering wheel, hitting the dashboard with his fist, until he felt numb with pain. He got out of the car and the sweet smell of pine tree and fresh grass tickled his nostrils. As his eyes adjusted to the gloom, the area seemed familiar; a house in the middle of nowhere with mountains guarding it—Tessa’s cabin.

“Go figure, I can’t seem to get away from you,” Alessandro snarled. He walked to the porch, ran his fingers along the upper side of the doorframe until he found the crack and the key felt cold against his fingers. As it looked, no tourists had rented the house.

I’m too tired to drive back, he thought to himself, unlocked the door and entered.

HH for web

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Mondays are for Excerpts

20 Oct


“Last night,” Tessa began, her voice cracking. She cleared her throat, “Last night, you said . . . you said you wish you could stop loving me.” She glanced again at him, holding her breath.

Alessandro shook his head, and rubbed his chin, “I’ve never had so much to drink.” He paused, sighed and shook his head again. “Again, I regret coming last night.”

She saw him walking away and said quickly, “I didn’t get rid of you because I wanted to be with another man.”

He waved a hand and glanced over his shoulder. “You don’t have to explain yourself, Tessa. It’s your life to live free and do whatever you want.”

Alessandro’s glacial tone made her shiver.

Tessa walked to him and when she was only a step away, she grabbed his arm, forcing him to stop and whispered, “And what if what I want is to be with you? Is that still an option?”

Alessandro turned around to face her. “Why, so you can break my heart again, throwing me away like a bad shoe?” His stern gaze froze her, his words jabbing her heart like boxing gloves.

Tessa let go of his arm. “I’m not seeing anyone,” she mumbled.

“What about the man you were with last night?”

“That man is my . . . my brother.”

Alessandro burst into a fake laughter and began applauding, “Bravo, Tessa, you’re quite a remarkable actress. My sister—your brother. How convenient. You forget I know your family? You forget I know both your sisters, or did you just forget to mention him while we were dating?”

She slapped him over his arm. “Stop it. He is my half-brother. His name is Cristian Mincu and I found him by finding my biological father. As is turns out, my mama had an affair and I’m the result of it.” Tears stung her eyes, but she’d be damned if she’d let him see her embarrassment. She turned on her heels and marched to the sink once more to finish cleaning up. She turned on the faucet, picked up a sponge and scrubbed a plate vigorously, as if she could scrub away the suffering disgrace since she read her mama’s letter for the first time.

“Is this true?” Alessandro’s voice sounded shaken.

“No, I made that up so I can try out my acting skills,” she snapped at him.

“I’m sorry,” she heard Alessandro’s soft tone behind her back.

She straightened her backbone, “Don’t be. I don’t need your pity.”

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Mondays are for Excerpts

20 Oct


“Abuse resides next door. A countless number of women among us are physically, verbally, and emotionally abused. I was one of them. A year ago to the day, I almost died at the hands of the man I planned to spend my life with. I thought I knew him inside and out. I was wrong.

“One day he came to my apartment, hit me, and raped me. My body healed, in time, but my soul and heart bled for months. I lost my identity. I wanted to die and stop the pain, stop the nightmares, stop the voices in my head, the voices that told me I deserved it, that I looked for it, because I’d done nothing to stop him.” Tessa took a few short breaths, forcing herself not to cry. She saw shocked faces and heard murmurs around the room, but she needed to say it out loud for everyone to hear.

She sniffled and, looking at her audience, she continued, “For months I’ve been an empty body, with nothing to give, nothing to hold onto. My life wasn’t mine anymore. And then, one day, my dear friend Dina told me about this shelter for women in need and I have this desperate desire to do something for them. But I can’t do it alone. I need your help. There are so many ways you can help. Don’t be a bystander. Thank you for coming, thank you for your generous donations. Let’s make this a memorable event. Hopefully many more will follow.”

From the corner of her eyes, Tessa saw someone standing and applauding. It was her favorite actor, who surprised her by accepting her invitation. Others followed his example and the room exploded with applause. Out of nowhere, Victor appeared next to her, handing her a bouquet of white roses. He gave her a heartfelt hug, and helped her walk down the few steps off the stage.

“I can’t believe you never told me,” Cristian whispered in her hair, holding her tight. “We need to talk about it.”

Tessa laughed and cried at the same time. “I have no idea how I got the courage to walk out there and tell my story in front of those strangers, but my therapist was right. It feels darn good! And I don’t want to talk about it anymore. It’s over,” she said, between sobs mixed with laughter. “I have my life back, I have my life back,” she kept saying against her brother’s shoulder. She felt safe in his arms, an embrace she’d become accustomed to and looked forward to in the years to come.

She felt a light tap on her shoulder. Cristian let go of her and when she turned around, she saw Adrian. He pinched the tip of his nose and shuffled on his feet.

“Father,” she exclaimed, hugged him briefly and then realized what she just called him. Embarrassed, she said, “Sorry, Adrian, my emotions are running wild tonight.”

Adrian kissed her hand, patted her cheek and said, “No need to apologize. I don’t hear it enough.” He looked at Cristian, who scratched the back of his head, then pulled at his hair, spiking it.

Tessa knew her brother enough by now to recognize the signs of nervousness. She elbowed him, “This son of yours and brother of mine has done an incredible job helping me put this event together. I’d like to thank him by having dinner at my place and I’d like to invite you as well.”

Adrian pretended not to see Cristian’s frown and said, “Pepin would make a fuss over my eating anything but his food, but I’d be more than happy to join you.”

“Great, I’ll call with details. If you’ll excuse me, I have to say hi to someone.” She kissed Adrian’s cheek, then Cristian’s and left them. She’d get hell from her brother later, no doubt about it.

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Mondays are for Excerpts

13 Oct


“I guess we have something else in common other than the same father,” Tessa said when she couldn’t take the silence any longer.

Cristian glanced at her, “What’s that?”

“Stubbornness.” She pulled her legs underneath her and rested an elbow on the back of the black sofa, staring at him. “As children, my sisters and I played this game called mum and we’d mimic and grimace until whoever made the slightest noise would be disqualified. You wanna try it?”

He turned off the TV and turned to face her, copying her body position. “You came all the way here to play mum with me?”

“I came because I was worried about you. Besides, that’s what siblings do, right?”

“Tessa, you have to stop this sibling this, sibling that, brother here, sister there. I still have a huge issue with this and I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Why does it bother you so much? Is it because it’s me or do you struggle with the notion of a half-sister?” she asked.

He didn’t say anything. Instead he picked up the remote and held it as if he wanted to turn the TV back on, but he didn’t.

“It’s because . . . because of you,” he said, not looking straight at her. He stood and walked away, looking out the window. “I feel like such an idiot for putting my heart out there and finding out afterward that you’re my sister. When I saw you at my father’s house it was like the rug had been pulled from under my feet. I just can’t look at you without feeling ashamed for wanting you. Can you imagine what it would’ve been like if that night we would’ve had sex?” He shook his head and turned to look at her, his eyes sparkling with apprehension.

Tessa stood and came to face him. Shrugging a shoulder, she said, “I’ve been asking myself the same question, freaking out over it. But I can’t and won’t do it anymore. We haven’t slept together and that’s what matters. I want you and Adrian in my life and I’ll be damned if I can’t have you both. We belong together. True, not in the way you wanted, but hopefully in time you’ll forgive him. I want to grow old together, share holidays together, have our children play together. You can’t deny our bond, no matter how pissed off you are at Adrian right now.”

Cristian shook his head and walked away, returning to the sofa. The boxing match was back on.

“He is pretty worried about you,” Tessa said.

“And you drive me nuts, you know that?”

“Get used to it.” She came next to him, ruffled his hair, then placed a kiss on top of his head and walked away. “See you tomorrow night. Dinner’s at six. I have Eva, a friend coming over, and she’s amazing. The fundraiser is around the corner and I asked her to help us. And if you have any leftover pie from your neighbor, bring it. I love cherry pie.”

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Mondays are for Excerpts

6 Oct


“Why?” Tessa asked moments later, the most important question of all, the question that should put her worries to rest, her past behind her and free her up to live her future—a future free of deception, fear and betrayal.

Adrian stood, walked to the window, holding both his hands behind his back. He seemed lost in his thoughts for a while. When he spoke, his voice sounded as if he were returning from a different universe.

“Why? Why do people cheat? Why do people fall in love? Why do they hurt their loved ones? Why did I get involved with your mother even though we both were married?”

Adrian returned to the sofa and sat next to Tessa, slightly facing her. “I can tell you that I was trapped in a marriage that didn’t give me the things I wanted, needed, craved. I can tell you that I wanted a divorce even before I met your mother or after we became involved. I can tell you that I lived thinking of Ana night and day, a living hell for so many years, I lost track of them. I can tell you so many things now, but honestly, none of them would change what we’ve done.

“They’d be nothing but excuses, and I doubt that’s what you want to hear. I made a few mistakes in my life, mistakes I am not proud of, but if there’s one thing I’ve done right it’s getting to know Ana, loving her and being so lucky to be loved by her. She had been my world, my everything. I still love her with the same intensity, the same passion I did thirty years ago.” He didn’t bother to wipe his tears away, his face contorted with pain.

“How long had you been together?”

“I returned to Bucharest after several years and I didn’t look for her, trying to go on with my life. But we met again and we tried to resist . . . to stay away. I asked her if we could maybe just have a cup of coffee now and then. For about a year we did that. One day, she worked the nightshift and I waited for her in the morning. It was pouring rain outside and I offered to give her a ride home. We were together after that, until she got the news about the cancer.

“She called me and told me to come to our apartment, she had news for me. I got there thinking she finally decided to accept my marriage proposal. Instead she told me that day would be our last day together,” Adrian said and a new wave of tears filled up his eyes, his voice choked. He struggled to speak again, swallowing hard a few times.

He cleared his throat and continued, “She told me that she wanted me to always remember her as the woman I fell in love with, whole, healthy, alive, and not some butchered, empty body she’d turn into after the mastectomy and the chemo. I told her all I wanted was to grow old with her, no matter how little time we had left, but she was adamant about it. She made me promise not to ever try to contact her and not to come to her funeral.

“I was weak and visited her once in the hospital after the surgery, but she didn’t see me, still under anesthesia. I never really said goodbye to her. And here I am, a year after she has passed away, still waiting for her to come back to me.”

Tessa had been brave since she got there, keeping her emotions in control. She knew her mama loved this man. She knew they’d fallen prey to a passion that consumed them even after they stopped seeing each other. She knew they’d been too weak to resist each other.

She came wanting to be mad at Adrian, mad at her mama, and judge them for being unfaithful. Judge them, point her fingers at them and scream for making her feel shameful for something she hadn’t done. But she couldn’t. The anger inside her heart mysteriously disappeared, replaced by acceptance. And forgiveness. And hope.

Tessa put her hands on top of his and when Adrian raised his eyes to hers, she smiled and said, “I’m tired of being mad, I’m tired of hurting. I want to live in the present, free of the past’s burdens. You loved Mama and she loved you back. I can’t promise much, but if you let me, if you allow me in your life, I’d be willing to try . . . try to accept you. Don’t get me wrong, I had a father, a father that loved and raised me. But knowing what you and Mama had, the love you gave her and how happy you made her . . . I’m at peace with that.”

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