Friday, August 21, 2015

Living Lies

By Eleanor Cocreham
Contemporary Romance, 366 pages, cover art by Trisha FitzGerald

Lani destroys Laurie's happiness in a night of reckless abandon, which changes their lives forever. Suffering the consequences, Lani flees to Italy and Laurie moves to New York.

Conflicts and challenges face the mirror image twins as Lani becomes involved with a vineyard owner and Laurie learns her lover is Mafia.

Leaving Rome after breakfast the following morning, Lani again gave special thanks to her modeling agency. The previous year she had been chosen by the Maserati Company to participate in their premier showing of the new Gran Cabrio in Frankfort. The amazing four-seat convertible she couldn't resist ordering was delivered to the hotel that morning. She hadn't thought to include the special luggage designed to fit the narrow trunk space, however, and had to seek the bellmen's help to store her baggage and bottles of wine.

Hungry again by early afternoon, she stopped for lunch at a place called Ceilla on the outskirts of the city. She stretched and chose an outside table to dine al fresco beneath vine-covered trellises dripping with purple wisteria blossoms. Judging the food to be excellent by the aromas coming from inside, and unable to resist, she succumbed to another dish of pasta swimming in herbed white sauce. She patted her stomach and grimaced. Although she was tall and could probably carry the baby longer than most without showing, she couldn't continue to gorge on such foods.

The heat of the day had subsided by the time she finished her meal. Still unrecognized despite the interest and comments her sleek, black car generated, she lowered the roof, admiring the ease of it. But then everything about the convertible pleased her, including the cushioned leather seats and the way the powerful auto hugged the roadbed of Autostrada A-1. Managing to stay within the speed limit to avoid a ticket, she began her search for the road to Lucignano, her destination.

Once she arrived in the village located between Arezzo and Siena built around the hilltop, she had difficulty finding the villa and stopped for directions more than once. Darkness was fast closing in when she finally located it with the help of several old men sitting on a bench in a piazza who declared even a hound dog would have trouble finding such an isolated place.

Fortunately, the estate's iron gates were open. She drove the quarter mile to the house, parked on a gravel path at the side of the tall structure, raised the auto's top, and removed the small tote holding only what she would need for the night. After locating the keys under the designated flower box, she pushed aside the thick strands of heavy brown cord hanging over the entrance, momentarily pondering the reason for the yarn-like covering as she unlocked the solid wood door. Bugs? Mosquitos? Snakes? Ugh.

Shrugging, she entered the kitchen through the small pantry and glanced up at the impressive arched brick ceiling. She spied bread and cheese left covered on the counter, and noted that the wall lamps lighting the room also illuminated the lower hallway floored in red tile. From the kitchen doorway, she peered down the long span apparently used for dining, which ran the length of the house from front door to back. Skirting the centered grouping of a narrow table and eight chairs, she paused midway in the hall to briefly admire a side staircase almost ten feet wide leading to two upper floors. The house was so much larger than she expected, and she hadn't a clue what she would do with so much space.

Taking in the two large bedrooms cornering the end of the hall, she stared at the beige faux-stucco walls topped with elaborate scrolled borders painted to mimic crown molding. Choosing the room with the largest bed made with fresh linens, she cranked open the shutters over the tall windows, threw her things on a high window seat covering the steam radiators and eyed the meager furnishings. Other than bedside tables, there was a lone wooden chair, a small closet, and an armoire which wouldn't hold half of her clothes.

She drew a relieved breath at the new oversized towels hanging on racks in the adjoining bath, furnished no doubt by the real estate agent who had approached her about investing in a house with limitless possibilities. She knew absolutely nothing about construction and decorating, but she vowed if she did decide to buy this eyesore, painting those boring beige walls with a pop of color would be her first priority.

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