Vicky Vale's come to help her mother with her first ever wedding fashion show. Upon arrival, Vicky finds Valentina's office occupied by a handsome stranger, who seems to be moving in on her mother's company.
And who appears more than capable of setting her heart, and her body, aflame.
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Ellora's Cave Publishing, Incorporated
November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Valentine Wishes by Mlyn Hurn
"National Suck-Up Day!" Valentina Vale spoke softly and then she took a sip of her gourmet coffee. The handsome gray-haired man seated beside her at the small table in the trendy coffee shop coughed in surprise at her words. As she watched, he wiped his mouth with his napkin. "And before you ask, Mark, no, I'm not kidding. That is exactly what her ex-fianc? called Valentine's Day."
Mark Magnuson shook his head in disbelief. "And that is the excuse he used to avoid buying your daughter a present?"
"Yes. This started with Vicky's first real boyfriend in high school. I thought he was a schmuck, but Victoria seemed to find something attractive in him. What that was I'll never understand! Not a single one of Vicky's suitors had an ounce of true romance in them. I'm not saying my daughter's had a slew of men in her life, but her ex-fianc?...well, he was the worst--the straw that broke the camel's back, so to speak." Valentina reached out and covered Mark's hand with hers.
"That's one of the reasons I'm anxious to have her participate in the fashion show. I want her to believe in love and romance once again. She has gone on a few dates since moving away, so it isn't that she hates men. Quite honestly I know that I am probably being the overprotective mother. Most likely it's because of my happiness and now I want my daughter to have the same. And I know she is going to love you, Mark."
"I'm looking forward to finally meeting your elusive daughter, darling."
"I know, Mark. She hates this time of the year. I think she refuses to go anywhere until Valentine's Day is finally over. Her life is just home and her job, which is done almost entirely from her apartment for now. Her quiet period is the break between Valentine's Days and Easter." Valentina shrugged, shaking her head.
Mark put his hand over hers and squeezed gently. "It sounds like this jerk really did a number on your daughter. They weren't married, right?"
"No, luckily she wasn't that foolish. He did ask her, though, several times. I think the problem goes much deeper than just this last man. In high school, she dated some jock on the football team. He was of the opinion that he was popular enough that he didn't need to buy a girl any gifts. I'm beginning to fear that perhaps Vicky just has terrible taste in men--unlike me, of course."
Valentina leaned toward her new husband and kissed him lightly. "I love you, Mark Magnuson. I am so glad that I knocked you down in Venice."
Mark laughed and nodded his head. "Me, too, my love. I wish Vicky could have come to the wedding."
"I know. I feel unmotherly in agreeing with you, Mark, because I wish she had come as well. She has decided that she doesn't want to fly ever again."
"I can understand her fears, though, Valentina. After all, she was on one of the planes that were in the air the morning of September eleventh. A lot of people are still suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder in one way or another."
"And if we'd delayed the wedding long enough for her to drive back to New York City from California then she would have come. I considered waiting, except you were leaving again and I wanted to travel with you. I'm just so glad that your son took over the financial end of my business. I don't know if he realizes how much he has relieved my stress and freed my creative spirit once again."
"Nothing in this world pleases Kirk more than having more money to worry over."
"Still, Mark, there was nothing in our loan papers that suggested his stepping in to manage everything on such a personal level." Valentina took a sip of her coffee and then glanced at her watch. "Oh dear! I've got to scoot, darling! I'm supposed to be meeting Vicky at the store for her fitting. Somehow I just know it is going to be painful."
"What will be painful, darling?"
"Just the whole returning home thing, Mark. She'll be faced with her ex-fianc? at the store--"
"I'm sorry, darling. I should have told you sooner. Her fianc? was Nick Ingles. They worked together, which I guess is how they got together. Only after they started dating did Nick share his views on romance and holidays."
"Why would a guy down on romance go into designing wedding dresses?"
Valentina laughed as she shook her head negatively. "I think it was a case of being so damned good at something that he got steered in this direction. Anyway, he was just the last straw for Vicky. There were only a few guys she dated before Nick, but each one seemed to have the same mind-set."
"Has she been dating since she moved there?"
"She says yes, but I doubt it. I think she decided to become a new kind of hermit."
"Hmm. Are you sure she doesn't hate men? Maybe all the while this was leading to one of those life-altering changes kind of thing." Mark shrugged his shoulders, his embarrassment at even broaching the subject apparent on his face and in his demeanor.
"Unless things changed dramatically, no. Whenever we'd go shopping and see an attractive, strapping young stud I would see her looking. Vicky always denied it, saying it was the artist in her that appreciates his good bone structure. But I would get her by asking what bone structure lies in his ass!"
Mark laughed out loud. Picking up his wife's hand, he pressed his lips to her fingers.
"I just wish that something wonderful would happen for her," Valentina murmured.
"Perhaps she will have surprised you and developed a whole new attitude regarding Valentine's Day and love."
Valentina stood and hugged her handsome new husband. "I am always hopeful. We'll see you for dinner at the restaurant. Kirk knows the time and place, right?"
"Yes, darling. And I'll call him again to verify things. Stop worrying!"