Jane Austen is a writer and a hopeless Romantic. Her single mother conceived her in Turkey on an archeological dig, named her daughter after her favorite author and then left Jane to her grandmother’s care.
Grandma is long gone, and Jane wants to know who her father was…and a few other things, like why the tall, dark and handsome stranger she keeps running into is so intriguing – and what does he want from her?
“Take Me Back” – Excerpt:
Jane’s toe caught on the corpse lying in front of the refrigerator and she grunted in disgust when she realized what she’d tripped over. She’d forgotten it but the smell was a reminder. Packing would have to wait, she thought, as she bent over the corpse, trying to decide how to dispose of it.
More pleasant things occupied her mind at the moment and her heart gave a little jump at the thought of exotic places. She was both excited and scared to be going away alone, but the tickets were non-refundable. At least Luke’s had been a companion ticket, no great loss there, but he would have been a….. No, she couldn’t go there. It was over and she had to get on with her life. With the last of the money and time running out, she owed it to Avie to go and fulfilll her next book contract with his agency as she’d promised since Avie was not only her editor, he was her friend. The friend that had talked her into going on this trip by herself.
Her eyes wandered to the large suitcase and she mentally inventoried the contents for the twentieth time this morning, afraid of forgetting something like underwear. Did they have department stores in Turkey, or limited places to buy lingerie like The Harem Shop? Maybe they made their own – she better pack extra since she knew that wouldn’t be happening.
In the hallway outside her apartment she could hear Mrs. Jankowski droning a little nonsensical tune as she entered the apartment next door. She would miss Mrs. J. and the homemade cookies. The dear old lady had offered to take care of Flurry in Jane’s absence, and the relief in knowing her pet would be well cared for meant a lot to Jane. She made a mental note to bring home a nice gift for Mrs. J.
She looked over and saw Flurry going for the corpse again and, grabbing a broom beside the fridge, shooed the big white Angora cat and then bent to pick up the mouse trap gingerly with two fingers as the little body dangled precariously. Jane wrinkled her nose and headed for the toilet with Flurry on her heels.
“Get out of the way, you stupid cat. I fed you, for Pete’s Sake, and this isn’t dessert!” She flung the mouse, trap and all, into the bowl and flushed until it disappeared, then washed her hands. The Landlord could deal with any problems later.
I’d better get used to critters…and bugs, she thought as she shuffled back to the tiny kitchen in her bunny slippers and put her last can of cat food into a bag for Mrs. J. She would have to leave some money for more. She dug in her purse and realized she’d need to write a check, and stop at the bank on the way to the airport for traveler’s checks; what about currency exchange? To hell with it all, she’d figure it out later.
A photo of her and Luke stared back at her from the desk where she should be writing her next best seller. Maybe that’s why she couldn’t write lately. Maybe? No, certainly. She picked up the small frame and looked at his handsome features one last time. The lock of dark hair falling across his forehead, the long dimples in both cheeks, soft dark eyes like liquid pools of chocolate. His eyes had been phenomenal.
Amazing how one book signing could change your whole life. In a month he’d moved in with her and her latest advance financed their whirlwind romance while they took day trips and ate in expensive restaurants. When the money started running out, so did Luke. Her heart skipped a beat as she dropped the frame into the trash beside the desk and heard the glass break.
Turn the page. That’s what Avie had advised and Avalon Sinclaire had a lot more experience with selfish boy friends than she did. Her best friend was right on target and he’d warned her about Luke the Charmer as Avie called him.
Never mind that Avalon was also her agent and had advanced her money for her next book, money she’d spent on Luke. Extending the deadline twice while she had her fling, he’d jeopardized his job for her. Now she owed Avie and had to write that book she’d promised. He’d insisted that she spend the last of her money visiting the places that would inspire her.
She looked into the trash regretfully. Too bad about Luke though. A trip with him to the Mediterenean would have been fabulous in the late fall. Not too hot, not too crowded in the off-season. Of course, it would have defeated the purpose since she wouldn’t have gotten any work done, so it was a good thing that Luke had turned out to be such a self-centered asshole.
He’d wanted to see bullfights in Spain and travel Europe, but her book promo was Mediterranean. He didn’t care. The part about actually leaving her when she purchased the tickets shocked her; ok, devastated her. But now she could focus on writing, she thought, giving the trash can a little kick. At twenty-eight, Luke had been her first, last and only real relationship. His leaving hurt. Bad.
If not for Avie, she’d probably be curled up alone in bed with a box of tissues, sobbing over Sam’s piano music as Casablanca tugged at her heart strings.
Instead, she was headed toward the airport with a ticket to the Turquoise Coast. Throwing herself into planning to take her mind off of Luke, her research had offered some great suggestions for her itinerary and she found she could hire a skiff to take her up the river where Bogart and Hepburn filmed African Queen. She’d be able to choose what interested and inspired her until her money ran out. She had about three weeks. Maybe four with frugality. Nothing like a little pressure to keep a girl from wallowing in her own misery.