Monday, October 4, 2010

On Days Like These excerpt by Christiane France

In the novella On Days Like These by Christiane France, burned-out mystery writer, Mark Salvatore, asked to borrow the old family home in the hills near Genoa, Italy for some much needed R&R. He envisioned a blissful summer enjoying the warm Italian sun, hanging out with the villagers, eating good home made Italian food, and drinking the local wine.

However, after a frustrating trip via Paris and Nice, Mark finally arrives in Santa Fiori in the rain to find the house has been trashed. Chickens and ducks from a nearby farm have taken possession of the living room, and there’s a naked man asleep under a pile of blankets in the bedroom.

Tony Wheeler is English and says he’s in Italy on business. He also tells Mark that his car has been stolen, and he’s waiting for his clothes to dry and the weather to clear before he can walk to the village to inform the police. For all Mark knows, he could be a drifter, a drunk, or just about anything. However, Mark’s just heard about a bank robbery in Milan just a few hours ago. The thieves got away with the loot and immediately Mark’s creative processes go into high gear. Milan is less than a hundred miles north, and Santa Fiori is just off the main Milan-Genoa highway. What if Tony Wheeler is just an alias? What if he’s one of the thieves, hiding out in the hills until the heat is off?

On Days Like These
Amber Allure
ISBN-13: 978-1-60272-717-5 (Ebook)


While Mark was inside, talking to the DiNini rep, Tony had taken the opportunity to change into a black tank top and black, skintight jeans that emphasized both his tan and his lean, nicely muscled physique. In one hand, he now held what appeared to be his still-damp clothes; in the other, Mark’s rolled up jogging pants and sweatshirt. Except for his hair, which was straight rather than curly, he reminded Mark of one of those god-like dudes he’d seen on the back of old coins.

“Ready to hit the road?” Mark asked, irritated when he realized his normal speaking voice had dropped a couple of octaves. He had no idea why his voice always sounded husky whenever he had a hard-on—the two weren’t connected as far as he knew—but it was always a dead giveaway for anyone who knew him well. Fortunately, Tony didn’t. At least, not yet. “Trunk’s open if you want to put your stuff in there.”

Tony’s dark eyebrows drew together in a frown as he stowed his luggage and closed the lid. “Sounds like you’ve picked up a cold?”

“No, it’s nothing.” Mark turned away and got in the car.

But as Tony got in beside him, and Mark turned the key in the ignition, he was unable to repress a shiver as Tony ran the tip of a finger up his arm from wrist to elbow.

“It sometimes gets me that way, too.”

“What does? You mean lack of sleep?” Mark pushed his sunglasses up on top of his head and allowed Tony to capture his gaze. While he wasn’t usually one to play games like this, he didn’t want to walk in blind either. If Tony was in love with someone else, as his restless behavior during the night seemed to indicate, then Mark wanted to know what the situation was before he got involved, not after.

“No. You know.”

“I do?”

“Stop playing silly buggers, Mark.” Tony smiled, a long, slow, delicious smile that captured Mark’s complete attention. It also included Tony rimming his lips with the tip of his tongue and once again revealing that goddamn dimple. “I lose my voice, then my muscles feel weak, and it’s like all my strength and energy has been relocated to one very sensitive spot. But why am I explaining this to you? I’m quite sure you know exactly what I mean.”

“Who’s Pete?” Mark asked.

The smile disappeared and Tony’s mouth tightened. “Someone I used to know. Why?”

“Used to?”

“As in once upon a time, past history, over and done with. No one you need worry about. It was over months ago when he found another job and moved to the States.”

“But you still dream about him?”

Tony sighed and glanced away. “Sometimes. Sorry if I woke you up.”

“No problem. You still in love with him?”

“Obsessed is probably a better word.”

Mark thought that was all Tony intended to say. But then he chewed on his thumb for a moment and said, “It was all so fucking stupid and one-sided. I loved him, and he loved himself. He didn’t care who he hurt, or who he screwed, literally or figuratively. I can’t believe it’s been so damn hard letting go. You ever known anyone like that?”

“Sure I have. Hasn’t everyone?” Actually, Mark had had one or two similar experiences of his own, the kind that had left a few scars, but for Tony it sounded like a first. His first experience of finding out that it took a whole lot more than being used, abused and screwed over before the heart really understood what the head had known all along. “It’s not always easy to tell the good guys from the bad. And, as you said, it can be damn hard letting go.”

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