Friday First Kiss #99 :: The Cursed Princess by Alexandra Marell (Contemporary Romance)

Friday First Kiss

The moment I crack open a new book, I always rush through the beginning, the budding relationship between the hero and heroine, and anticipate that spontaneous moment when one of them makes their move. The First Kiss. The first turning point in every story.

Every week here on the blog, I’ll be sharing First Kisses from my books and those of other authors.

 

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This week’s Friday First Kiss comes from,

The Cursed Princess by Alexandra Marell

“That’s twice you owe me.”

Elena couldn’t argue with that. “A veritable knight in shining armour,” she said over her shoulder. She’d have to take this robe off sometime, otherwise why had she agreed to come?

“Fought off the fierce snake and saved your cat. Have I earned my reward?”

So close his breath warmed her neck, making her tremble all over. “I’ll stand you to a meal at Scarofi’s, how about that?”

“Not nearly enough,” he whispered, teeth nibbling at her ear. “I do believe a kiss was promised?”

“I promised no such thing. I’m practically engaged. I can’t go around kissing strange men.”

“I’m not strange men. And you’re not engaged.” He caressed the curve of her shoulder, gently turning her to face him. “If you truly love this Jacob, if you want a life with him, I’ll leave now and go back up those steps to the villa. What do you want me to do, Elena?”

Moonlight painted the strong planes of his face, throwing his features into highlights and shadows. A man’s face, with a history of joy and suffering written in the easy smile, the scar on his chin. Honourable enough not to intrude on anything she might have with Jacob, but willing to take what he could, offering no more than a holiday romance, a nostalgic trip to the past.

Back then she hadn’t had a choice. Her teenage self wanted the world. Nothing less than his body and soul.

“I’m not marrying Jacob, no.” At least her trip here had sorted that dilemma for her, the distance exactly what she needed to make the right decision. The problem was if she didn’t marry him, could they go on working together? She and Jacob were the Craft Collective. Without their joint vision it wouldn’t exist.

“I’m very pleased to hear that.” Dario touched her face almost pensively, as if weighing up the consequence of the words. Wondering how much these few days would cost them both.

A holiday romance. A few days of sex and fun. People did it all the time.

And then at the end they had to say goodbye and go back to their lives.

He was undoing the ties of her robe himself, with sure, confident movements, smoothing it back over her shoulders, his expression serious now as he took her in from head to toe.

With one finger, he traced a line from her throat to the curve of her breasts, encased not in the string bikini but in a more modest affair from the forties, more dignified and in keeping with the woman she was now.

Is that what she was trying to tell him? The teenager who’d have thought nothing of donning the string bikini had changed, and to do this, he needed to know that. Elena had grown up during those missing years.

“My god, Elena. And I thought you were beautiful back then.”

A slight choke to his voice and exactly what the old Dario would have said. Only back then it would have been spoken with the innocence of youth, and not rolled off the tongue with the practised ease of a man who’d paid homage to the most beautiful women in the world.

Twenty years, during which she’d consigned that handsome young man to history and got on with her life. Twenty years that melted away with the touch of his hand, the timbre of his voice, the unspoken promise in his words.

Pushing the robe over her shoulders, she let it drop to the sand, standing proud while he drank her in. A grown woman, now, capable of deciding for herself what she wanted out of life.

“It’s the island,” she said, still feeling the need to shift the responsibility for her actions. “Has a magic all of its own, don’t you think?”

“I couldn’t agree more.”

His palm closed around her breast, drawing a long-held sigh from her.

“Listen to it. Stop questioning and take what it offers.” Soft lips touched hers, familiar, loved, pulling her back through the years, telling her she’d never get on with her life if she didn’t find out how it could have been between them.

Could she bear having him leave her a second time?

Hooking an arm about his neck, pulling him closer in case he stopped kissing her as if the world was about to end, she wondered if she could.

* * * *

How did you get to be CEO of a billion-dollar conglomerate and still feel this terrified when kissing a woman?

Unfounded terror, to his relief. Still the same in the way she touched him, the small sounds as she let the kiss wash over her. The taste of her the same but with the added bonus of life. As they settled into the kiss he felt the new confidence, replacing the desperation of youth, the slight holding back that told him now she knew the score and accepted it.

A holiday fling. Two healthy adults indulging in a bit of passion fuelled by the sun, the scenery, the removal from their normal lives.

Standard fare for him. For her, he guessed not and then felt ever more honoured that she’d do this with him. The decision would be hers because she’d be the one regretting this come morning, if they didn’t play this right.

Breaking contact, she murmured, “Do you want to swim, now?”

“No.” He showed her exactly what he wanted, lifting her and holding her close. For the first time in their lives, they had the privacy they’d always craved, the whole night before them.”

“I want to take you back to the villa and make love to you. No questions, no worries about what anyone will think. Just you, Elena. I want only you.”

 

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The Cursed Princess

The Cursed Princess by Alexandra Marell

Dario Denaro hasn’t come to the Island of Sorellina to fall in love again. He’s here to oversee the renovation of Villa Cristina, the most exclusive of the Denaro residences. And Elena Marcante, who’s on the island to visit her ailing grandmother, certainly doesn’t expect to run into the man who left her twenty years ago without a word of goodbye. But Cristina the cat has other ideas. Once the most noble Princess Cristina Denaro, she was cursed by her jealous lover, Bernardo Marcante, to live as a humble cat until a Denaro and a Marcante declare undying love. But after five hundred years and with the family feud still running deep, Cristina is desperate, while Bernardo’s spirit lurks in the ruins of the old temple wracked with remorse for what he did to her.

Dario and Elena are no longer a pair of love-struck teens, but will they remember that magical summer they spent together? With hope of ever breaking the curse fading and with a few family secrets revealed along the way, Cristina is determined the medieval cathedral bells will finally ring out for the union of a Denaro and a Marcante.

 

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About Alexandra Marell

 

Alexandra Marell also writes as C A Nicks. She’s worked as a teacher and publisher and now writes in a variety of romance genres, but always with the same tight focus on the characters and their emotional journey. She’s a great believer in love at first sight.

When not writing, you’ll find her in some spooky mansion or castle indulging her hobby as a paranormal investigator or haunting piano stores plotting how to sneak a fifth piano past her very patient husband. She considers her Bosendorfer grand piano a member of the family

You can find Caroline online at the following links.

 Facebook | Website | Blog 

 

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About Lily Graison

Lily Graison is a USA TODAY bestselling author of historical western romances. Her Willow Creek Series introduced readers to a small Montana town where the west is wild and the cowboys are wilder. Lily also dabbles in contemporary and paranormal romance when the mood strikes and all of her stories range from sweet to spicy with strong female leads and heroes who tend to always get what they want. She lives in Hickory, North Carolina and on occasion can be found at her sewing machine creating 1800’s period clothing or participating in civil war reenactments and area living history events. When not portraying a southern belle, you can find her at a nearby store feeding her obsession for all things resembling office supplies.

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