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Romance In The Tuscan Hills: A New Beginning
 

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Romance In The Tuscan Hills: A New Beginning


  Romance In The Tuscan Hills

  by Jenniffer Cardelle

  All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means, including scanning, photocopying, or otherwise without prior written permission of the copyright holder. Copyright Jenniffer Cardelle © 2015

  Table of Contents

  1. Video Introduction

  2. Introduction

  3. Chapter One

  4. Chapter Two

  5. Chapter Three

  6. Chapter Four

  7. Chapter Five

  8. Chapter Six

  9. Chapter Seven

  10. Chapter Eight

  11. Chapter Nine

  12. Chapter Ten

  13. Chapter Eleven

  14. Chapter Twelve

  1. Video Introduction

  Video Introduction - Click HERE!

  2. Introduction

  Danielle (Dani) Vierra was “Living the Life” as an executive in a high powered, big city investment firm. Although her career was rewarding in many ways, it consumed all of her time and energy and still left her with a feeling of emptiness.

  She lost her mother to cancer at the tender age of 18. Her mother taught her about self- reliance and developed in her a very strong work ethic. Dani turned around and applied these lessons to the career that was beginning to drive her crazy!

  Suddenly, she received a call from Italy. Her grandmother passed away.

  Dani barely knew her grandmother but her entire Italian estate was now hers.

  Dani decides to take two weeks off of work to deal with the estate and any legal issues herself. What she didn't count on was falling in love.

  3. Chapter One

  Romance Among The Tuscan Hills

  Danielle took a quick bite of the lightly buttered toast she made for breakfast before taking a swig of milk straight from the carton. She put the milk back and shut the fridge with one well placed kick of her high heeled shoe. Her mother always told her 'the early bird catches the worm.' That's the only reason she would be up before the sun, drinking milk out of the carton and already dressed for work. Being an early bird landed her a high powered, high stress job in an equally high powered, high stress firm. It would have made her mother proud...If only she was here to see it.

  “Miss you, Mom.”

  Danielle kissed her index and middle finger and touched them to her mom's picture hanging next to the door on her way out to catch the subway to the heart of the city. Her mother would be proud of her success, but was Dani? Some days, other days she wished she was anywhere but here. What would it be like to be far away from the city? Would she miss the constant go, go, go that kept her mind whirling 24/7? She couldn't slow down even if she wanted to. Not here.

  Dani elbowed her way onto the subway and dived for the only available seat. Other passengers with the same designs on the seat gave her death glares but Dani didn't care. Early bird catches the worm. As the subway lurched away from the station, she closed her eyes and tried to imagine what it would be like to step away from it all and just be...free. She hadn't had a second to slow down and take stock of everything wrong (and right) in her life in a long time. Now wasn't that time either. Not with the ska music blaring through the kid's earbuds next to her or the guy hacking up a lung two seats down. Quiet was seriously lacking in her life. Maybe it was time for a change.

  But not today. There was too much to do. There was always too much to do.

  ~*~

  “Hey, Dani, how's it going?” Her co-worker and semi-stalker James managed to squeeze into the office elevator as she punched the 'door close' button. “You're looking great as usual.”

  “Thanks.” Dani decided it was best to answer anything James said to her in one word sentences. It wasn't encouraging but it wasn't completely dismissive either.

  “So The Big Boss Man is gunning for blood again,” James said. “Something about reports due by 10:30, and no one coming in early. Besides you and me, I mean. We know how to get ahead in the world.”

  “Yup,” Dani said.

  “We'd make a good team in and out of work.”

  “Maybe” she said in a noncommittal, way. Good enough to keep James from going into a rejection spiral and neglecting his work, but not enough to actually give him any hope.

  “Maybe we can do lunch sometime.”

  Dani shot out of the elevator as soon as the doors opened. The let's do lunch thing would require much more than a one word response. She didn't want to go there now – especially when there were a mountain of reports to analyze sitting on her desk. The Big Boss Man Robert didn't like to be kept waiting. When he said reports on his desk by 10:30, what he really meant was reports on his desk by 9:30.

  Dani closed her office door and made her way to her desk. It was a comfortable enough set up with the sort of plush leather and polished wood her mom would have drooled over. This meant she made it. She was someone in the world of finance.

  Then why did her life feel so hollow?

  4. Chapter Two

  Dani unlocked the door to her townhouse, dropped her bag on the kitchen counter as she passed through on way to the living room, and finally sunk into the plush leather of her sofa. She closed her eyes. Closing her eyes made the world go away. She could block out all the reports needed on Big Boss Man Robert's desk by tomorrow, the crowded subway rides, and lonely, empty apartment. Maybe she should just get a dog – someone guaranteed to be happy to see her at the end of the day. A dog wouldn't complain if she spent too much time at work or seemed distant and distracted. A dog would just give her infinite loyalty and love. Dani hadn't felt that since her mom died.

  “Nothing has been the same since you've been gone, Mom.”

  Sometimes Dani imagined she was on a dating show where everyone was vying her her attention. She may be at the top of her game job wise, but she was on the bottom of the dating totem pole. Besides that semi-stalker James, no one had really shown interest in seeing her as a desirable woman instead of a great employee and co-worker. Maybe she really did spend too much time at work. Maybe she needed to put herself out there and make things happen dating wise instead of waiting for it to happen.

  “Maybe, maybe, maybe....Always maybes and what ifs,” Dani sighed. “I could really use your advice right now, Mom. You taught me so much about how to get ahead in the world, but not about relationships. I can't relate to people. I'm too closed off. I see the problems, but I don't know how to change it. How do I change it, Mom?”

  Dani frowned and grabbed the TV remote control. Enough talking to herself. That wasn't going to solve anything. She was a doer, not a complainer. It was time to start doing and stop complaining about all the maybes and what ifs....

  Starting tomorrow, she decided. Mom always said everything looked better in the morning with a fresh pair of eyes and clear mind. Mom's advice had never steered her wrong. Tomorrow wouldn't be any different.

  5. Chapter Three

  Morning brought a clear head and fresh perspective. It was crazy to be down in the dumps over something she could change with a little will power and tenacity. She had a beautiful townhome and an amazing, high paying job at one of the top firms in the city. What was there not to love about her life? So what if there was no romance. Romance was over-rated. Companionship would be okay but it wasn't the be all end all, the TV shows and romance novels wanted you to believe it was. What was wrong with being a strong, independent career minded woman?

  “Absolutely nothing,” Dani said out loud and she grabbed her briefcase and headed out the door. “There is nothing wrong with me. My life is great. Perfect even. Amazing. Wonderful.”
>
  But it wasn't. Not really. She could rattle off all the positive-thinking clap trap she wanted, but it wouldn't change the fact that there was a hole in her life since her mom died. That hole was love.

  Dani sat at her desk trying to focus on the stack of reports Robert needed in an hour. She glanced at the clock and then her desk calendar. Nonna always called at this exact time every Tuesday. Maybe she was running late or forgot the time different from New York to Italy – Nonna was getting up there in years – but it wasn't like her to not call. Dani contemplated calling herself when her cellphone rang. She clicked the green 'talk' button and unloaded before Nonna even had a chance to say 'ciao.'

  “Oh, good, Nonna, I was starting to worry about you. How are things? If you need help with chores around the villa, let me find you someone. You shouldn't worry about all that. You're 87 years old. You deserve a break, don't you think?”

  There was silence on the other end before a heavily accented, unfamiliar voice said: “I am trying to reach Miss Danielle Vierra. May I speak to Miss Danielle Vierra?”

  “This is Danielle,” she said. “Forgive me for asking, but who are you and why do you have my grandmother's phone?”

  “I am Lorenzo Zanutti, your grandmother's lawyer. I am very sorry to inform you that your grandmother has passed. You are her lone heir. Everything she has is yours. Will you be coming to Italy to settle the estate in person or shall we exchange all the information over the telephone, Miss Vierra?”

  Dani wasn't one for rash decisions, but she knew she owed it to Nonna to settle everything in person. A phone call wasn't enough. This was Nonna’s legacy – not ordering a pizza.

  “No. No, I'll come in person,” Dani said. “Just give me a few days to book a flight.”

  Dani clicked 'end' and laid her cellphone on her desk. She stared blankly at her desk calendar with 'Nonna' written in red ink and circled. She always looked forward to her weekly calls from Nonna. Now she had absolutely no one in the world but herself.

  Unexpected tears welled up in Dani's eyes. No, no, no, no. Now was not the time to cry. She needed to stay strong. Instead of succumbing to the tears – she could save that for later – Dani scrubbed at her eyes, stood up, and walked roboticly over to Robert's office. She lifted her hand to knock before hesitating. What did she say? 'Hey, I'm taking off to Italy without any notice. See you in two weeks' just didn't seem appropriate.

  “Just tell the truth. He'll understand,” she whispered out loud. “Don't think too much about Nonna and you'll get through this conversation without any tears. No tears. You can do this, Dani. No tears. Nonna would want you to be strong.”

  “Come in!” Robert called almost as soon as Dani knocked.

  “Robert, it's me.” Dani stepped into the room and closed the door behind her. “I'm not sure really how to say this. I'm going to need some time off for family issues.”

  “Family issues?” Robert's heavy eyebrows knit into a perfect V in confusion. “I thought you didn't have any family? That's why you're such a good worker. No family means no distractions.”

  “My grandmother in Italy was the only family member I have,” Dani said.

  “Was?” Robert caught the word choice instantly. “What happened?”

  Dani spread her hands in front of her palm up in defeat. “I don't even really know. I got a call from her lawyer. He said she died. I don't know if it was sudden or if she's been hiding some illness from me or what. All I do know is that I'm the sole heir. I need to go to Italy.” She stopped and shook her head. “No. No, it's more than that. I need to go to Italy. I owe it to Nonna.”

  “When do you leave?” Robert asked.

  “That's it?” Dani asked. “No complaints? No 'we can't get on without you'? Just 'when do you leave?'”

  “Dani, I'm not such a hard ass that I'd ask you to keep working when you just found out your grandmother died. Grandmas are special. I get that. You're special too. Your job will still be here when you get back so, I'll ask you again. When do you leave?”

  Dani took a deep breath – barely able to hold in the tears this time. “As soon as I book a flight.”

  6. Chapter Four

  As the plane made its final descent into Florence International Airport, Dani tried not to remember that, when she got off the plane, there would be a smiling, laughing Nonna ready to greet her, but some underling from Zanutti's law firm. All her memories of Florence were from childhood when everything naturally seemed bright, beautiful, and carefree. Now, whenever she thought of Florence, there would be a dark cloud over the memory. Nonna was one of a kind. There was no replacing her. Her passing left a hole that would never be filled.

  Once she was through customs and picked up her luggage at baggage claim, Dani looked around for the guy from Zanutti's law firm. She scanned the row of limo and taxi drivers with their neatly printed little sign before finding what she was looking for. A young man with a mop of curly dark hair and the whitest smile she had seen this side of a toothpaste commercial held up a small sign that read: DANIELLE VIERRA.

  Dani walked over to him and motioned at the sign. “I'm Danielle Vierra.”

  The boy's grin widened. “Welcome, to Florence, Signorina Vierra, I am Vincenzo and I will be escorting you to Senior Zanutti’s office. I trust you had a safe flight? Let me take your bags. Please, follow me.”

  Dani followed Vincenzo to a black car with tinted black windows. He opened the back door and motioned for her to climb in. She got comfortable before leaning back in her seat and stretching her legs out in front of her. It felt good to wear sandals instead of high heels and dress casual instead of in a business suit. Maybe she needed a vacation more than she thought if jetting off to settle her grandmother's will was considered a nice relaxing day.

  “How far is it to Mr. Zanutti's office?” she asked as Vincenzo climbed in the driver's seat, brought the car to life with the turn of a key, and pulled out of the airport parking lot..

  “Not far, not far,” Vincenzo assured her. “Only twenty minutes. Have you been to Florence before?”

  “Only when I was a girl,” Dani said. “Nonna always thought it was more exciting to visit us than the other way around. I guess when you grow up here, you take for granted the beauty all around you.”

  “Florence is definitely a beautiful city to behold,” Vincenzo agreed.

  As they drove, Dani watched the historic buildings with their definite old world charm out the window. It's funny how some things never change, and other things or people that you thought would last forever were gone in the blink of an eye.

  “I am sorry about the news of your Nonna's passing,” Vincenzo said. “She was a remarkable woman. You look quite a bit like her, you know.”

  “Everyone says that, but I don't quite see it,” Dani said.

  “Maybe it is more your aura or spirit that shines through to match hers. You are ambitious, no?”

  “You can tell all that from my aura?”

  Vincenzo laughed. “You would be surprised.”

  “Nonna always said surprise meant you weren't prepared enough. Is there anything I need to be prepared for with this estate business?”

  “I will leave that up to Lorenzo to tell you.”

  Lorenzo turned out to be the Mr. Zanutti she previously spoke to on the phone. Once Vicenzo safely parked the car and led Dani upstairs, he handled the introductions.

  “Mr. Zanutti, I have brought you Danielle Vierra. Ms. Vierra, I would like you to meet Mr. Zanutti.”

  Dani held out her hand to shake. “Please, call me Dani.”

  “A pleasure, Dani.” Zanutti shook her offered hand. “I am Lorenzo. I just wish we met under different circumstances. Your grandmother was a very fine woman and very astute as well. I am not sure if you are aware that she bought an estate in one of the most sought after areas in all of Italy. It is bordering the Tuscany region and surrounded by beautiful hills and vineyards as far as the eye can see. It is worth two million US dollars.”

  Dani'
s mouth dropped open. “Two million dollars? Why didn't Nonna tell me?”

  “Perhaps for the same reason she did not tell you she was ill,” Lorenzo said. “Mrs. Vierra was a fiercely independent woman who had no wish to upset or worry you. She did want to make sure you were well taken care of, though. The estate is her final gift to you.”

  “I just....I mean, I want...I thought...” Dani trailed off. She shook her head to try to clear the thoughts bouncing around vying for attention. “A two million dollar estate? It's too much. I can't accept it.”

  “Mrs. Vierra wanted you to have it.” Lorenzo said. “All you need to do is sign a transfer paper and it's yours. What you do with it after that is up to you.”

  Lorenzo, pulled out the papers, and Dani began signing here and initialing there in order to take possession of the estate. It only took a few minutes to change her life completely.

 
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