As the snow falls gently on the Cornish streets, Amy Avanti summons up her courage and opens the door to Penhally Bay Surgery, knowing it will take her back to another life where she was adoringly in love with her husband--and now she's back to finally set him free.
But sexy Italian Dr. Marco Avanti simply wants her back by his side, saving lives by day, making love by night. Marco's never stopped loving Amy, and he's going to find out what is causing the shadows under his darling wife's eyes. With the New Year approaching they are going to make a new beginning--and make their marriage magical again!
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
January 01, 2011
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from The Italian's New-Year Marriage Wish by Sarah Morgan
'I want a divorce, I want a divorce, I want a divorce...'
Amy recited the words in her head as the taxi wound its way along the small country roads that led towards the North Cornish coast. The snow that had fallen overnight had dusted fields, trees and bushes with a wintry layer of white that now glistened and sparkled under the bright early morning sunshine. It promised to be a perfect day--perfect for people who weren't about to end their marriage.
She felt sicker than she'd ever felt in her life and the brief glimpse of the sea in the distance increased the tension in her stomach until it felt as though she'd swallowed a loop of knotted rope. No amount of logical reasoning or deep breathing produced the desired feeling of calm and suddenly Amy wished she hadn't chosen to come in person. But what else could she have done when he'd refused to respond to her letters or phone calls?
He'd left her no choice.
Staring out of the window at the familiar landmarks, she admitted to herself that his protracted silence had surprised her. It was so unlike him. He was Italian after all, and she'd braced herself for an ongoing display of simmering, volcanic passion.
Marco was single-minded and determined. A man who knew what he wanted from life and took it.
Which just went to prove that he clearly hadn't wanted her.
Amy felt her throat close and she swallowed hard, controlling the tears, aware that she was being completely illogical. It wasn't as if she'd wanted him to put up a fight. It would have made it so much harder to do what had to be done.
Amy curled her hands tightly over the edge of her seat. She wanted to tell the taxi driver to turn round and take her back to the station but she knew that she couldn't give in to that impulse. If she didn't do this now then she'd only have to do it later and she'd already put it off as long as possible.
It was time to finally end their marriage.
She was so lost in thought that it took a moment for her to realise that the taxi driver was speaking to her. 'I'm sorry? Did you say something?'
The taxi driver glanced in his mirror. 'Just wondering if you live in Penhally.'
Amy managed a polite smile. 'No.' She consciously relaxed her hands. 'Not any more. I used to, before...' Before her entire life had fallen apart. 'I lived here for a while.'
'So.' He drove carefully down a road still white with snow. 'I expect you're home to celebrate New Year with your family? Are you staying long?'
No family. No celebrations.
'It's just a short visit,' she said huskily. 'I'm here until this evening. My train is at eight o'clock.'
Which left her just enough time to confront her husband and say, 'I want a divorce.' And then she would never see Penhally again.
'Well, keep an eye on the weather. Can you believe that it snowed again last night? I mean, when did we last have snow like this on the coast? When was it last this cold?' He shook his head. 'Global warming, that's what it is. Our entire climate has gone bonkers. And there are severe storms forecast. Leave plenty of time or you'll find yourself stranded and miss that train.'
Barely listening, Amy glanced out of the window. She'd be leaving Penhally that evening even if it meant walking.
As the taxi turned into the main street, her heart rate doubled, as if her body was instinctively bracing itself for conflict.
She slid down slightly in her seat and then frowned with exasperation and sat up again. What was she doing? She was behaving like a fugitive, not a thirty-five-year-old doctor with a responsible career!
But the thought of actually seeing Marco again shredded her self-control, confidence and dignity into tiny pieces. For the past two years she'd dreamed about him, thought about him and cried about him. No matter what she'd been doing, he'd dominated her thoughts, but she'd spared herself the torture of actually bumping into him by taking herself as far away as possible.
Unable to trust herself not to weaken, she hadn't just left the village or the country--she'd left the continent.
'Stop here.' Suddenly anxious that she might bump into Marco before she was ready to see him, she leaned forward. 'Thank you, this is perfect. I can walk from here.' She fumbled in her bag for her purse, paid the taxi driver and slid out of the back of the car, clutching her small bag.
She waited for the taxi to pull away and stood for a moment, staring down the main street of Penhally. It was still too early for the shops to open but Christmas lights twinkled in the windows and decorations glittered and winked. The addition of snow produced a scene that could have been taken straight from a Dickens novel and Amy gave a tiny smile, suddenly feeling more Christmassy than she had over Christmas itself. Memories slid into her head: memories of walking hand in hand with her grandmother, choosing decorations for the Christmas tree; collecting the turkey from the butcher.
She'd always thought that Penhally was a magical place.
Her few happy childhood memories were centred on this Cornish fishing village.
She'd wanted her own children to grow up here. 'Amy? Amy Avanti?'
The voice came from directly behind her and she turned, her palms damp with sweat and her heart pounding frantically against her chest. It was as if she'd been caught shoplifting instead of just returning home unannounced.
'Tony...' She managed a smile even though she was secretly wishing that the landlord of the Smugglers' Inn hadn't chosen this particular moment to walk up the street. 'You're up early.'
'Busy time of year.' The collar of his coat was turned up against the winter chill as he studied her face, a question in his eyes. 'So that's it? I haven't seen you for ages and all you can say is, "You're up early"?'
'Sorry.' Feeling suddenly awkward, Amy huddled deeper into her coat. 'I suppose I don't really know what to say...'
'You always were a woman who listened more than you spoke...' Tony grinned '...which makes a pleasant change. Does Marco know you're home?'
'No.' She hadn't wanted him forewarned. Her only hope was to catch him off guard. She was banking on the fact that he'd be so shocked to see her that he wouldn't say much. Wouldn't make things difficult. 'It was an impulse thing. We have things to discuss.'
'Well, I heard the Maserati roaring down the street earlier so he's probably already at the surgery. They're busy over there.'
His words brought a disturbingly vivid memory to life. A memory of a hot summer's day two and a half years before when she and Marco had just arrived in Penhally, newly married and full of plans. Full of hope and optimism. Marco had taken her for a ride in his beloved Maserati, a car that perfectly matched his testosterone-driven approach to life. He'd driven the car along the coast road, one hand on the wheel, the other laid possessively over the back of her seat, and Amy had been so madly and crazily in love with him that she'd spent the entire trip gazing in disbelief at his profile.
And he'd guessed how she'd felt, of course, because he was a man who knew women and his cool sophistication and greater life experience had just increased her own, deep-seated insecurity.
Why was he with her?
How many times had she asked herself that question? Amy swallowed hard and pushed the thought away. He wasn't with her. Not any more. And although it had been her decision, she knew that by leaving she'd simply hastened the inevitable. 'I'm surprised he's driving the Maserati. It always hated cold weather.'
'It still hates cold weather. Last week it died by the side of the road and your husband was gesticulating and letting out a stream of Italian. The entire village was in the bookshop looking up words in the Italian dictionary but we all know that when it comes to his precious car, Marco doesn't always use words that are in the dictionary.' Tony scratched his head. 'I suggested he buy a traditional English car designed to cope with traditional English weather, but he treated that suggestion with the contempt that it probably deserved.'
'I can imagine he wasn't enthusiastic.'
'It's good to see you back, Amy. We were surprised when you went.'
'Yes.' She had no doubt that she'd left the entire village reeling with shock. Marco Avanti just wasn't a man that women left, especially not a plain, ordinary woman like her, who should have been grateful to have attracted the attention of anyone, let alone an Italian heartthrob.
And she hadn't offered an explanation.
How could she? It had all been too personal, too private. Too devastating.
'Well, it's good to see you home, even if it's only for a short time. If you hurry, you'll catch Marco before he starts surgery. He's pretty busy. I expect you heard about Lucy? She had her baby early and so now they're a doctor down.'
She hadn't had news of Penhally for a year, not since that one, solitary letter she'd received from Kate Althorp, the practice manager, who had once been her friend.
'They must be busy.' Which made it better for her. Marco wouldn't have time to argue or make things difficult. She was going to walk into the surgery, say what needed to be said and then leave before he had time to compose arguments. Hopefully he'd be too wrapped up in the needs of his patients to be particularly bothered about an almost ex-wife.
Amy shivered slightly, her breath leaving clouds in the freezing air. 'I'll see you later, Tony.'
'Make sure you do. Pop into the Smugglers' for a drink before you leave.'
'Yes.' She smiled, knowing that she wouldn't. What was the point of exposing herself to gossip for the sake of one drink when the entire liquid contents of the pub wouldn't be enough to dull the pain of seeing Marco Avanti again?
At the other end of the village in the state-of-the-art GP surgery that served the local community, Marco Avanti lounged in his chair, staring with brooding concentration at the computer screen on his desk. 'Kate?' he called through the open door. 'Didn't you say that the blood results for Lily Baxter had come through?'
'We haven't had time to enter them on the system yet.' Kate walked into the room, carrying a mug of coffee. 'With Lucy going on early maternity leave, we've been concentrating on finding a locum. Being one doctor down over the Christmas period just doesn't work. I found four more grey hairs when I woke up this morning.' She moved a stack of journals and put the coffee on his desk. 'Here, drink this. You're going to need it. It's going to take you until this evening to get through the amount of patients booked in today.'
The pungent, seductive aroma of fresh coffee filled the air and Marco gave an appreciative groan. 'You made that for me? Truly, you're an angel, amore.' He curled long, strong fingers around the mug and lifted it, the smell penetrating the clouds of tiredness that threatened to fog his brain. 'Tutto bene? Everything OK? Tell me the worst. The village has been consumed by an attack of cholera? Plague? Everyone is queuing to see me, no?'
'Don't even joke about it. And as for the queue...' Kate smiled wearily. 'You don't want to know. Just take them one at a time and if you're still here tonight, I'll bring you a sleeping bag.'
'Just make sure the sleeping bag contains a warm, willing woman,' he drawled, and Kate smiled.
'You're incorrigible.' She moved towards the door and Marco put the mug on his desk.
'Did you find time to call the garage about the Maserati?'
'Yes. They're coming in a minute to see to it. Give me the keys and then I won't have to disturb you.'
Grateful that there was one less thing that he had to manage, Marco reached into the pockets of the coat that he'd thrown over the back of the chair and tossed her the keys. 'Here. Grazie, Kate. Not only are you molto belissima, you are also efficient.'
'It's called time management. If I sort out your car, then you spend more time with patients. It's a solution that works for everyone, so you don't need to waste your Italian charm on me.'
'Why is it a waste?' Enjoying the brief distraction of meaningless banter, Marco leaned back and gave her a slow smile. 'Run away with me, Kate. We could both leave this cold, windy place and live in sin in my beautiful Italy. I own a palazzo in Venice, right on the edge of the canal.' He watched as a shadow flickered across her eyes.
Then she noticed his gaze and blushed slightly, smiling quickly as if she didn't want him to know that she was unhappy.
'Maybe I will leave,' she said softly. 'Maybe it is time I did something different. But not with you. I'm not that stupid. My New Year's resolution is never to get involved with a man who is still in love with another woman and you fall into that category.'
Marco felt every muscle in his body tense but carefully controlled his facial expression. 'The only woman I love,' he purred softly, 'is currently parked outside this surgery with an engine problem. She is my baby.' He kept his tone neutral but Kate gave a faint smile and shook her head slowly.
'You don't fool me, Marco. Whenever Amy's name is mentioned, you always appear so cool and in control, but I know that you're not. What's happening under that cloak you put between yourself and the world?'
Nothing that he had any intention of sharing.
'You want to know what's under my cloak? This isn't the time or the place, tesorol How had they suddenly shifted from talking about her problems to talking about his? He teased her gently, swiftly and skilfully manoeuvring the conversation back to safer ground. 'I have surgery starting in less than five minutes and that won't be enough to do justice to your beauty. When I make love to a woman, I need at least twenty-four hours.'
'Stop it or I'll have to throw a bucket of water over you!' Kate gave a reluct ant laugh. 'It's bad enough that all the women in the village are in love with you. They're all waiting for your broken heart to heal so that they can pounce.'
'My heart isn't broken.' Marco reached forward and checked something on his computer. 'In fact, all my organs are intact and in perfect working order.'
'Well, don't tell anyone that! There'll be a stampede and we're busy enough here.' Kate's smile faded. 'I wish I was more like you. How do you do it? You and Amy were so in love--'