Welcome the lovely Rachel Harris!
A universal theme in pretty much everything I write, from sweet and funny to deeper and emotional, is the idea of masks. So many of us wear them, whether we intend to or not, and I love exploring that concept, whether it is trying on a new identity or shedding one. Another big theme is humor and flirtatiousness. I’m a romance junkie and while I love exploring relationships of all kinds (friendships, parental, and love), you can count on romance popping up in a Rachel Harris book. Hence, my author tagline, Unmask Your Inner-Flirt.
I thought it’d be fun to explore that concept with my main character, Cat Crawford. This is an EXCLUSIVE, EXTRA SCENE you won’t find anywhere else. (Even in the book!) It takes place within the scenes, right before an important turning point. I hope you enjoy!
The rhythmic trotting of horse hooves alerts me that our company has arrived.
I grin at my reflection in the small, round mirror. “It’s time to unmask my inner-Angeli.”
Back home I may be plain old boring and aloof Cat Crawford, art geek and daughter of Hollywood royalty, but Lucia’s right. Here I can be whoever I want to be. And from this point forward, I’m choosing to be Patience D’Angeli—a sixteenth-century London-transplant/ brand new Florentine, with zero mama drama weighing her down.
Glancing out my open window, I see Lorenzo step down from the carriage. There’s no denying the boy is hotter than Hades. And now seems as good a time as any to experiment with my new role. Pursing my lips and tapping them with an extended finger, I ask myself, what would Patience do now?
The answer: tear through the palazzo and down to the courtyard as if the paparazzi were chasing her.
Last night on the way home, Cipriano mentioned he’d send the carriage to pick up Lorenzo first thing in the morning, giving himself time to meet with Uncle—no doubt going over intense figures and calculations—before our outing. I swear that boy is in serious need of a vacay. And as for Alessandra, despite the super-sonic perkiness she exudes the rest of the time, she’s actually the exact opposite of a morning person, dragging her feet for at least an hour after her maid wakes her. But both of these traits suit my purposes this morning because it means that if I hurry, I’ll have a few moments with Lorenzo to myself.
Laughing, I bolt through my bedroom door. I mean, it’s not that I plan on really doing anything with these stolen minutes. I might be freer in the sixteenth century without the taint of my mother’s scandalous reputation and the mystique of having an uber-famous dad, but I’m not that free. I’m never gonna believe in all that sappy, romance novel crap, and I have no intention of being added to Lorenzo’s growing list of groupies. The boy may be a hottie, but I’m not falling for his Renaissance game.
I’m just curious to see if he’s a match for mine…and if I even have any.
I burst into the courtyard and scan the quiet square. Lorenzo’s stands a few feet in front of me, just before the trickling fountain. He’s turned away, admiring the fountain like I’ve done so many times since arriving a few days ago, so I let myself take a minute to appreciate the gift of beauty that he is.
The tan fabric of his doublet stretches across the breadth of his shoulders, outlining the muscles underneath. Disheveled blond curls brush against his white collar. And though I can’t see Lorenzo’s reflection, I can picture the chocolate depths of his eyes, the devastating twist of his grin that always hints at mischievousness, and my favorite part, the faintly crooked tooth his grin exposes.
I’m fascinated with that one imperfection.
In the midst of all Lorenzo’s swoon-worthy lines, that one flaw, as tiny it may be, helps me remember that he’s just a guy….
…..a guy that happens to be a smooth talking player-type.
“Patience, I feel the weight of your gaze.”
Startled from my thoughts—and still not really loving the sound of that horrid name being attributed to me—I quickly school my features before Lorenzo turns around. When he does, the right side of his mouth is already kicked up in a grin.
Bingo. There it is.
I zone in on that one flaw of his, and begrudgingly admit that in the morning light it’s actually endearing. Nevertheless, it exists—and it’s my one protection against my traitorous hormones.
“Maybe I wanted you to know I was staring,” I say, not even knowing where I’m going with this. I look up at him through lowered lashes, kinda hating myself as I do for employing such a stereotypical girlish move, and say, “You are scrumptious eye candy ya know.”
A line of confusion crinkles between Lorenzo’s eyebrows and I fight back a laugh. In this case, using my strange vocabulary will be an advantage. Since this flirting thing is new to me, and I suck so very badly at it, I can take comfort in the fact that he won’t understand me, anyway.
I’ve always believed that if such a thing as a seductive gene existed, it either skipped me in the DNA pool or died a slow and painful death due to years of non-use. But as I always say, if you project a certain image with confidence, people tend to believe you. So, I decide to go with it and see what happens.
Clasping my hands behind my back, I take a step forward, effectively eliminating the distance between Lorenzo and I to a few tiny steps. I’m rewarded for my boldness with the widening of his eyes and an unmistakable flash of nervousness.
I do an internal jig of joy.
Unmasking my inner-flirt might be easier than I thought.
And when Lorenzo’s darkened gaze sinks to my mouth, my little jig transforms into a full-on Thanksgiving Day Rockettes number, complete with jazz hands.
Lorenzo clears his throat. Raising his eyes toward the open windows of the palazzo, he asks, “I presume Cipriano and Alessandra will join us shortly?”
I nod but otherwise remain silent, enjoying holding the power for once—not that I want to turn into Mama Dearest or anything. But hey, making a gorgeous guy squirm is a heady thing. And it’s evident in the way Lorenzo keeps shifting his weight that he is unaccustomed to a girl being the aggressor in his flirtatious repartee. He’s more comfortable with them melting in a puddle of drool at his feet.
Well, I guess my lack of swoonage is another oddity they can blame on my being from London—the euphemism I’ve adopted to explain away all my futuristic, twenty-first century behavior. It’s become quite handy for my bazillion cultural mess-ups, but I gotta say, I feel bad for giving Londoners such a bad rap.
Alessandra’s chirpy voice floats down from her second-story window and I know my time alone with Lorenzo is almost over. Wanting to press my advantage in these last stolen moments before he regains his player-footing, I close the small remaining distance between us and press my open palm against his chest.
Lorenzo’s breath catches audibly, and I grin. “I’m looking forward to our day in the country, without any… interruptions.”
The majority of the words, of course, are his; ones he told me just last night. But they seem to meet their purpose. Lorenzo’s pupils dilate and the rate of his pulse accelerates against my hand. Once again, his gaze lowers to my mouth, the heat of his stare simultaneously making me to want to abort my mission and close my eyes.
His hands reach out and grasp my waist.
My breathing hitches.
And Alessandra begins descending the stairs. “Cousin, are you out here already?”
Using the opened hand on his chest, I push away from Lorenzo and turn to answer. “Yep, down here.” Then I step back and grin.
Unmask your inner-flirt indeed.
Rachel Harris grew up in New Orleans, watching soap operas with her grandmother and staying up late sneak reading her mom's favorite romance novels. Now a Cajun cowgirl living in Houston, she still stays up too late reading her favorite romances, only now, she can do so openly. She firmly
believes life's problems can be solved with a hot, powdered-sugar-coated beignet or a thick slice of king cake, and that screaming at strangers for cheap, plastic beads is acceptable behavior in certain situations.
She homeschools her two beautiful girls and loves watching reality television with her amazing husband. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult Fun, Flirty Escapes, and LOVES talking with readers!
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