What happened to Paperback Romance Vol 1?
Don't worry, it's not gone forever! Due to the success of my other Romantic Urban Fantasy e-book - The Legend of Kaida Lance - on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited, I have decided to sell Paperback Romance to the (Amazon) devil and make it available for Kindle Unlimited viewers. This gives Amazon exclusive rights to the book for a period of several months so that means I must take it down from here and Fictionpress (as well as lulu and ibooks). If you're a Kindle Unlimited reader then by all means, check it out! It's a pretty fun read even if I do say so myself. :D
What about PBR2?
Never fear! It's still free and available for you to read here week by week. Or you will soon even have the option to download the complete copy on regular Kindle/ibooks etc...
Previously on Paperback Romance...
Librarian-cum-avid paperback romance reader Lizzie Green finds herself caught up in the very universe she is reading about when a customer of hers sets her up with his brooding billionaire son.
Alessandro Zingaro is sexy, sultry, and Italian – the epitome of 'Paperback Romance hero' and Lizzie is swept off his feet by his charm and wit. Everything is going perfectly it seems. She has found the man of her dreams and she is happy... but there is more to Alessandro than what meets the eye. Alessandro is actually a Paperback Romance hero desperate to escape his own fate and none other than Lizzie is his ticket out!
When he locks her into a secret marriage, she has two choices, get as far away from him as she possibly can, or play along and see where this crazy attraction leads them...
And so the story continues...
Three months ago...
"Alessandro, I need money."
An involuntary groan escaped the billionaire's lips. Why did he even bother answering the phone these days? "Get a job," he replied tersely.
"I work for you, cazzone." One of the benefits of employing family, even if he was illegitimate: no respect.
Alessandro Giorgio Zingaro, CEO and owner of Zingaro Luxury Escapes gave his temple a rub where he could feel the headache forming. "Your message said it was urgent." He'd already let one of Luca's calls go to voicemail. "Now unless the hotel is burning to the ground I don't want to know about it."
"Aw come on Alessandro, it's only a few grand. Call it an advance. Take it out of my bonus."
"You mean next year's bonus?" Alessandro reminded him.
"Right." The phone fell quiet. Brief contemplation. A moment where Alessandro thought that maybe his recently discovered cousin had finally seen the light and repented from his spending ways. Not that he could blame him. Up until only a couple of years ago Luca had led a hard life and not even known who his real family was. "I need it before tonight, so can you just transfer it into my account?"
Nope. Still the same old Luca. At this rate he wouldn't be seeing a bonus for the next ten or so years. Although to his credit at least he actually worked for his income unlike several other legitimate members of his extended family.
"Tonight?" said Alessandro. He leant back in his expensive office chair and twiddled a pen between his finger and thumb. The manuscript of a merger contract he'd been reading sat in front of him only half finished. "Tonight is the gala."
Some important figures in the business world were going to be there including one Olivia Stone. The very woman the Fates – the writers of those blasted paperback romances - had supposedly chosen for him. He wasn't going to lie, he was curious to finally meet her. To see what appeal she'd have now that he'd defied his so-called 'destiny to become the womanising scoundrel' and chosen to go down a different path. From what he'd read (and he'd read that infernal book predicting his future love life more times than he would care to admit), she was supposed to catch his interest by simply being capable of resisting his charms. This, in his opinion, was incredibly pig-headed of him. Alternate-Alessandro had obviously learnt how to get over his social anxiety and become quite the people charmer. Present-day-Alessandro, however, was still playing catch up.
Still, this Olivia seemed like an intelligent woman and intelligence was something both he and his player alternate did gravitate toward, even if she did invariably turn out to be a deceitful liar by hiding her pregnancy from him in the book. Fat chance he was going to let that happen... If things ended up transpiring that way.
"I know," said Luca, snapping Alessandro from his thoughts. "I need a new suit. You know, one that isn't going to raise the eyebrows of these crusty old businessmen and cause heart attack."
The boy did have a point. Up until recently, Luca's clothing preferences had hovered in the spectrum of ripped jeans and ratty old t-shirts – through no fault of his own. Though on the same note, Alessandro refused to be slotted into the same class as crusty old business men. He was only twenty seven for god's sake.
His lips twisted into a wry smirk. "You mean you actually want to give the appearance that you're respectable, is that what you're saying, Luca?"
Another pause. "Well yeah. As you know my father is going to be there."
Cazzo! Of course he was! Alessandro knew that. Luca would do anything to win the respect of his estranged father even if it meant dressing up for once.
"Are you at the hotel?" Alessandro asked, his voice softening even despite the fact that Luca hated pity. "I'll send someone over with a selection of suits. Charge it to the company card."
"Thanks, paisano. I owe you."
Alessandro hung up knowing he would never ask for a cent back.
The gala was packed. Alessandro hated crowds at the best of times so this was just suffocating. But seeing as it was being held right on his doorstep in Rome and he was one of the main guests of honour, he really had no excuse but to attend. The whole event was being hosted by shipping magnate Marco Calvetti in his most famous modern-style ballroom-cum-abstract sculpture gallery in celebration of goodness knew what. Alessandro had long forgotten. All it really represented was an opportunity for wealthy businessmen to peacock either their incomes or their significant others. Oftentimes both. And as it was being hosted by someone like Marco, members of the European business elite had thrown money and reputation at him in order to get in. Alessandro recognised most faces, whether they be business associates of his or those he'd simply read about in the various business journals he followed. He smiled and exchanged pleasantries when it became absolutely necessary, while at the same time chose to keep his distance, mentally counting down the hours before he could slip out undetected.
"Alessandro." He turned at the call of his name and greeted Marco and his wife. "Good you could come along this year." The older man beamed at him with a smile that had received dental work since he'd seen him last.
"Glad to be here," he nodded in attempt to cover over the blatant lie. Alessandro generally preferred upfront honesty but not everyone in his world appreciated that.
The two billionaires exchanged pleasantries and small talk. Alessandro wasn't much for small talk but it was a necessary evil that he'd long come to accept. Not so acceptable an evil however, was his ability to catch the eyes of women both single and attached and Marco's wife was proving to be no exception. Alessandro would never consider himself to be big-headed. He was at least willing to admit he wasn't the most charming or charismatic man in the room, but he was also one of the richest and this came with its own allure. Marco's wife was in the process of running a friendly hand along his arm, giving him the most blatant set of bedroom eyes he'd seen yet. She was in her own right a stunning woman, leaving Alessandro with no doubt as to why Marco enjoyed parading her on his arm, but whether Marco tolerated her obvious infidelities or not, that was another question entirely. She reached his bicep and gave it a subtle squeeze and Alessandro felt a twist of disgust. He did wonder briefly if the Alessandro the Fates had intended him to be would have taken advantage of her advances but then shuddered at the thought. Surely not. Married women just wasn't his thing. Not taking his eyes off her husband or the conversation at hand, he edged himself away from her grasp and the woman's expression soured. Then allowing the conversation to die a natural death he excused himself, only heaving the weary sigh once he knew he was free of them.
Where is Luca? He scanned the crowded ballroom for his cousin. The boy was notorious for being late but never like this. He checked his phone for missed calls but for once it remained silent on the matter. Tucking his phone back into his pocket, he turned to make his way to the bar only to accidently bump into a woman holding a martini.
"Oops!" she gasped and Alessandro took a step backwards, barely managing to avoid the sloshing drink.
She wasn't so fortunate and a good portion of the martini ended up on her dress.
"Mie scuse," Alessandro reached out a hand to stabilise the glass.
The woman glanced up at him, pools of stormy grey watching him and he found his breath hitching in his throat. Not because she was stunningly beautiful but because, even though they had never met, he knew exactly who she was. This was she. His one and only Olivia.
"Lascia che ti aiuti," crisis mode kicking in, Alessandro fumbled for a table napkin and pressed it into the stain on Olivia's dress, not even comprehending that it was also her left breast he was touching.
"Ah, I think I have this." The woman gently but firmly pried the napkin off him and he quickly snatched his hand away. English. Of course. He knew she was English.
"My apologies, I did not mean-"
"That's quite alright. I know you didn't mean anything by it."
She smiled up at him, pink rising in her cheeks as she took in his tall frame and muscular build. She was quite pretty. Not your conventional beauty and certainly nothing like what he'd seen strutting about the ballroom tonight - a fact she seemed well aware of as she tugged at her grey dress that looked like it was probably purchased from the discount bin of a department store - but she was still lovely in her own right. She had a shy innocence about her. Like the stereotypical quiet Librarian that had a man wondering if she was secretly a freak in the bedroom. Alessandro mentally recoiled. For some reason he found that thought more disturbing than arousing. Still though, if this was who the Fates had matched him with...
"I am Alessandro." He extended a hand as though he was greeting someone's grandmother and not the woman he was supposedly destined to be with.
Olivia accepted his shake, her hand slipping into his which was tiny in comparison.
"Zingaro," she finished. "I know who you are."
He blinked. "You do?" Then had to mentally palm himself. Of course she did. Everyone knew who he was.
"I actually work for one of your rivals. Nothing personal but I don't think we should be talking." She offered him an apologetic shrug.
That was the letdown she'd given Womaniser-Alessandro too. Also in the book she had chewed her pouting, kissable bottom lip like she was doing now. It was supposed to send Alessandro into a tailspin. It was supposed to be singularly the sexiest thing his raging libido had ever seen which would invariably send his world into hot, messy confusion. But instead he felt like he was looking down at his little sister. She was a kindred spirit perhaps, but he also knew even then that what he felt for her was completely, one hundred percent platonic. All he wanted to do was pat her on the head and send her on her way.
He started when a hand landed on his shoulder and Alessandro pivoted around to allow none other than his cousin Luca into the conversation.
"I was starting to think you weren't coming," Alessandro gave him a growl while at the same time keeping his expression pleasant in the face of present company. Was that alcohol he smelled on his breath?
Olivia blinked and took an unconscious step backwards, her eyes sweeping over the man who virtually hung off him in an affectionate, half-hug. Luca's dynamic energy tended to have that effect on people. Alessandro could only guess he'd yet again given up on his attempts at grabbing his father's attention. The older man was talking to a group of associates by an abstract sculpture made to look like the figure of a naked woman. Luca cast a glance in Olivia's direction, his eyes making a sweep of her in a similar fashion to what she'd done to him and she found herself tugging at her dress, her teeth once again biting into her plump lip that was going to wind up red and raw before the end of the night. Her pupils were so dilated and cheeks so pink that it didn't take a genius to see the effect he was having on her. Luca froze.
Alessandro found himself blinking. Luca knew her?
"Luca," she exhaled a stuttering breath before pivoting on her feet and moving to leave. "I was just about to-"
But Luca stilled her by grabbing her hand and pressing it to his lips.
"Olivia." There was a certain rasp to his voice as his charming brown eyes crashed into her grey. "Don't go. It's been what, months? How are you?"
"I... I'm fine..." she stuttered.
Alessandro left it at that. There was no point in being the third wheel. Not when he could see the destiny the Fates had chosen for him had already changed. He'd tempted fate by meddling in his own story and this was obviously the result; Olivia was no longer his. He was finally free to make his own choices and fall in love at his own leisure. That still didn't explain how she knew Luca, but the sort of connection they shared was unmistakable. There was something between them. Alessandro carried on with his evening by taking a deliberate interest in an old acquaintance. He would probably entertain her well into the evening before getting bored of her and heading home alone as was usual for him. Maybe if she captured his attention for long enough he might even kiss her.
Maybe... just maybe... he would also get around to making plans to pay his father a surprise visit in Australia...
The completed manuscript of this is available for download on kindle, lulu and ibooks.
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