Authors: Pamela Aares
Tags: #hot romance series, #mistaken identity, #sport, #sagas and romance, #Baseball, #wine country romance, #sports romance
Books by Pamela Aares
The Tavonesi Series:
Love Bats Last
(Book #1, Alex and Jackie)
Thrown By Love
(Book #2, Chloe and Scotty)
(Book #3, Alana and Matt)
Love on the Line
(Book #4, Cara and Ryan)
Aim For Love
(Book #5, Sabrina and Kaz)
The Heart of the Game
(Book #6, Cody and Zoe)
Love in the Vineyard
(Book #7, Adrian and Natasha)
A Very Daring Christmas
(#8, Cameron and Jake)
Love in the Vineyard
Book Seven in the Tavonesi Series
Adrian and Natasha
© 2015 Pamela Aares
A Note from Pamela
Before I had even written the final paragraphs of
Love in the Vineyard
, reader requests were pouring in asking for more stories of the Tavonesi cousins and their intriguing, sensual, adventurous and wildly romantic friends. Thank you for stoking the fire! In
Love in the Vineyard
you will meet Adrian Tavonesi, Alex's wickedly handsome cousin and Natasha Raley, whose spunk and courage in the face of adversity shows Adrian that true love is worth the greatest risk of all.
Love in the Vineyard
is the seventh book in the Tavonesi Series. Each book in the series can easily be read as a standalone yet you may enjoy reading the entire series and meeting all of the Tavonesi clan. If you have read the first books of the series, stay tuned as the love stories of some of your favorite characters are in the works!
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In the meantime, happy reading!
In LOVE IN THE VINEYARD, a one-night stand brought Natasha Raley the greatest gift of her life—her son. She wants to give him a better life than she had, but a gambling bet lands both of them in a homeless shelter. When the shelter director gives her a ticket to a masquerade ball, Natasha finds herself dancing with the most intriguing and mysterious man she’s ever met.
Adrian Tavonesi is creating a paradise on earth in Sonoma California, determined to be worthy of his vast fortune by making the world a better place. Convinced women only like him for his money and his status, he invents an anonymous relationship with the beautiful Natasha to create a dream world for both of them.
As passion flares into an all-consuming affair, the lies Adrian and Natasha have told each other threaten to ruin everything. Adrian is kind, generous, and sincere—Natasha knows he would be the perfect father for her son. But will her past and the devastating gamble she once made destroy her new world? Or will betting on the truth this time lead to the perfect, ever-lasting love?
Table of Contents
For my mother, brother and husband—love really does make the world go around!
HE’D FIND HER. AND THE KID. HE’D DONE the math—the kid had to be his.
Fate could push a man to the brink of insanity.
Eddie stared at the tumbler in front of him. Lifting it, he swigged the tart orange juice and tried to imagine the cool liquid dousing the fire in his belly, the fire that threatened him every day.
He was better. Nearly healed. But dark forces still lurked, still teased. It took every skill he’d learned to banish them. To find moments of peace.
He fingered the court seal on his grandfather’s will. Why his crazy grandfather had set the will up like he had, he’d never know. If his father and mother had lived, it’d all be different. Or would it? Maybe his grandfather wouldn’t have left them anything. His parents would have fought him in court, that much he knew. But they couldn’t fight now. Their yacht had gone down in the Greek islands three years ago. Only one crew member had survived the sinking boat. Eddie had never liked boats. Never would now.
His grandfather was like some eighteenth-century lord, creating a will that required Eddie to have an heir before his thirtieth birthday. He’d never approved of Eddie’s choices. And even dead, the old man had managed one more stab at the heart of his life.
. He had just over three months before he turned thirty. Maybe if his grandfather had told Eddie the stipulation a couple of years ago, he could have done something about it. Had his grandfather considered that he’d set an impossible mission?
At least until last night it had been. But last night the tide had shifted. A reward for turning his life around?
His rehab program required that he at least try to make amends to the people he’d wronged, make an attempt to find those he’d harmed and express his regret. He didn’t believe that good deeds could blot out the bad deeds of the past, but he was committed to the program.
At first he’d thought that returning to the casino, to the scene of his deepest shame, was ridiculous. The chances of the woman being there or of anyone knowing her whereabouts were slim. It’d been ten years since that horrible night, the night that showed him that he had to get help. It hadn’t mattered that he’d gone back the very next evening to apologize. She hadn’t been there. The bartender had told him she’d quit. No one knew where she’d gone off to.
Only he knew why. He’d have run from himself if he could have during those dark days.
He still couldn’t think about what he’d done that night. She’d tried to change her mind, leave the room. He’d been drunk, had lost at the tables. He’d snapped. Had taken his pent-up rage out on her. But that night and what he’d done to her had made him change. Got him to get help. Real help. Now he had his life in front of him. And just maybe it would be a wealthy one.
Because when he’d heard the doorman talking over the stall to one of the croupiers in the casino’s men’s room, it wasn’t only amends that had risen in his mind. Natasha—if her name really was Natasha—had a
. A ten-year-old son. What were the odds that it was his child? Unlikely. But possible.
Hope surged. He had a chance.
He just had to find the kid. And her. Shouldn’t be too hard. And if he did? How many women would walk away from a billionaire father for their kid? None that he knew.
But he’d always believed that hope was fuel for insanity. Without hope you could just drop into the abyss and stay there until life flickered out. But hope? Hope kept a man’s nose just above the water and forced him to face life.
He’d questioned the doorman a second time, confessing that he’d heard him talking about Natasha with the croupier. The man remembered Natasha, he’d finally admitted. Knew she had a son. But said she’d left ten years before and had never been back. The doorman was adamant about that. Eddie had experience interrogating people; the Air Force had trained him well. His instincts and training told him the doorman hadn’t lied.
Eddie took another swig of the now tepid orange juice and flipped through the pages of his grandfather’s will, stared at the familiar, slanting signature. His attorneys were searching for loopholes. He hoped to make a case that his grandfather hadn’t had a full grip on his mental faculties when he’d written it. But the odds of proving that weren’t good.
Some days he worried that insanity ran in the family. But his therapist had assured him he was sane. Troubled but sane and on the mend. Nearly there.
He shoved the will across his desk, and it fluttered to the floor. He should just forget the whole thing. Forget that he needed the money, the lure the crazy man dangled from the grave.
But disability pay didn’t cut it.
Since he’d returned from Afghanistan, he’d found he had an appetite for the riches and privilege of his younger years. The privilege he’d turned his back on when he’d bucked his parents’ wishes and joined the Air Force. After their deaths he’d inherited some money, but in his traumatized drunken days, he’d foolishly run through it. He knew better now. He had his feet under him. What an irony that he had a chance at having the resources for a new life and that chance had the odds stacked against him.
He pulled the will from where it had landed on the carpet. He’d find the woman and her son. He had to. He still had three months. She’d covered her tracks well. But she couldn’t know that tracking people was his forte.
That and killing.
But killing was a tool he’d sworn to leave behind.
NATASHA’S HAND SHOOK WHEN SHE PLACED her stack of chips on the felt surface of the roulette table. Hope laced through the desperation gripping her chest as she pushed the chips onto the square marked seventeen. Numbers had never been her friend and lately luck hadn’t been going her way, but seventeen was her favorite number. When she’d turned seventeen, she’d pocketed one of the false IDs her foster mother had counterfeited and bolted for freedom, leaving the East Coast and its troubles behind.
Had it only been ten years since that rainy day when she’d boarded a bus with a single suitcase and set out for California? So much had happened since then. Some good, some bad. But the good was why she edged closer to the table and gripped her hope tighter.
the thrill of this moment,” the well-dressed woman standing next to Natasha whispered in an almost reverent voice. “The delicious rush of anticipating where the hand of fate might fall.”
The diamonds on the woman’s hands and wrists told Natasha that the woman had far less at stake at the turn of the roulette wheel than she did.
Voices of partying gamblers in the casino faded as Natasha whispered a silent prayer. But memories flooded in, breaking the flow of her carefully rehearsed mantra.
The last night she’d spent in this very casino she’d been a coat-check girl. It was the only job she’d found after she’d arrived in the Bay Area. The only job that didn’t require that she read or do math. No one knew that words slid off the page when she looked at them, that numbers danced and shifted and made her mind go blank. And no one had ever guessed back then that she hadn’t been of legal age to be working in a casino. Her dark makeup and weary expression had fooled everyone.