La Casa d’Italia For Starters is the first of a trilogy and available in both ebook and paperback (7 December 2017), 742 pages. To give a taster of the story, I have an excerpt to share provided courtesy of Sarah of The London PR Agency.
| About the Book |
Step into La Casa d’Italia, a place for new beginnings, and let destiny take care of the rest.
When Dani’s trust is shattered, her life disintegrates around her. She loses her home, her job and her man. With few choices left, she starts over again, hoping to forget her hurtful past and move on.
Fate leads her through the doors of the popular Italian restaurant La Casa d’Italia, and into the path of Jerome Ferretti, a married man and highly successful leisure industry mogul. A man who seems to have everything he could ever want: a thriving empire, a beautiful family, good looks and the respect of everyone who knows him.
She is everything Jerome has ever needed. He is everything Dani could ever want. Their chemistry is undeniable, their paths destined to cross, their fate ultimately sealed. Except he’s off limits.
A story of new beginnings.
Excerpt from La Casa d’Italia – For Starters
by Anna-Maria Athanasiou
Chapter 4 – The Interview
ADAM PULLED UP OUTSIDE La Casa d’Italia. It was ten to nine. She was forty minutes early but she didn’t care. Dani hated being late. The building was set on the river and was a converted old stone mill. It had been beautifully restored and from the outside it looked like it had three floors. The entrance way had a glass extension to it and the original windows had been replaced with long larger ones, presumably to let in as much natural light as possible. There were ten large sandstone planters along the front with sculptured bay trees in each one. At the side was a large car park and further around was a deck overlooking the river. Dani presumed this was for the warm summer months. Definitely not for now – it was freezing today. She looked up at the building from the car window. The top floor had window boxes at each of the windows. It looked like a residence. There were already a couple of cars in the car park.
The whole area had been re-landscaped with sandstone-paved footpaths. Trees lined the road along with periodically positioned benches. It must be well used in the warmer months, thought Dani. The offices and businesses must use the area for lunch breaks.
Dani looked over at Adam and he gave her a reassuring smile. “I’ll wait with you until it’s time, if you like.”
“No, it’s okay. I don’t want you to be late.”
“I’m a partner, Dani, I can do what I damn well please. If you sit here until it’s time to go in, you’ll freeze.” He handed her a coffee which they’d picked up on the way, and she took a welcome sip. She’d have preferred an espresso, to give her a buzz, but the cappuccino would have to do. She could have also done with a cigarette. Her cravings weren’t really subsiding, but she was pleased she’d stuck it out going cold turkey for five days. She’d promised herself if she made it a whole week without a cigarette and also got a job, she’d buy herself some new boots. Footwear was always the best therapy.
“If they don’t take you on here, there’s a new hotel that’s opening. I know the owner. He’s bound to be looking for staff. I know you prefer restaurants and bars, but it’s an option too.”
Dani looked over to him and smiled. “Thanks.”
She was lucky she had Adam and Chloe. Her heart cracked a little at the thought. She’d hoped by now she’d have her own family instead of intruding on theirs. She knew they loved her being with them, but it just made the fact that she didn’t have her own even more apparent. Her life had taken several steps backwards in the last couple of days. She was back to being single, out of work and crashing in their spare room, instead of building her own future. She’d lost everything: her home, her job and her man.
“Hey, stop that. It’ll work out Dani.” Adam squeezed her hand.
“Thanks for this, Adam,” she mumbled.
“They were looking for someone anyway, Dani.” He knew she was feeling indebted to him for getting her the interview. “They won’t take you on because of me. I just heard they were looking, that’s all. With any luck, I might get a discount if you get the job,” he joked, trying to ease her tension with humour. “Our company spends enough bloody money in there,” he snorted.
Dani grinned. She looked over to the building and felt something. She wasn’t sure what, but it felt warm and homely. Even though the outside was urbane and polished, it still felt welcoming. Her attention was distracted by a tall man jogging towards the building. He was wearing long, grey shorts with a matching hooded top, covering his head. His breath formed clouds in the cold air as he steadily moved closer. Dani unbuckled her belt and reached for her bag.
“You get off. I’ll go in and wait. Thanks for the lift. I’ll call you when I’m done.”
“Only if you’re sure.”
Dani nodded and Adam slipped his arm around her, giving her a hug. “Good luck. Not that you need it,” he grinned.
Dani opened the door and stepped out. She swung her small bag over her shoulder, smoothed down her skirt, then reached into the car to retrieve her CV and coffee. Closing the door, she waved bye and blew Adam a kiss, causing him to grin and blush.
Dani watched him pull away up the street. There were a few cars driving into neighbouring buildings further up. Dani checked the time. It was just past nine. Thirty minutes to go. She looked back at the building and noticed the jogger had stopped and was leaning against the small wall that enclosed the car park. He was lighting up a cigarette and his brilliant blue eyes looked up as he felt her watching him. Dani smiled tightly, embarrassed that she’d been caught out staring. Dani took a sip of her coffee, then sat down on one of the benches that ran across the paved area opposite the restaurant. She tried to refrain from looking back up again and fiddled with her cup, but she felt his eyes on her still, and was desperate to get a second look. That quick glimpse of him was enough for her to want to take in the rest of him.
It was his eyes that had drawn her attention. They were so intense and steely blue. He was tall and obviously fit, and his exposed calves were toned and tanned. Dani shifted in her seat, looking anywhere but at the jogger. Then, in a feeble attempt to look casual, she let her eyes drift over to the restaurant and across towards where the car park was, hoping her peripheral vision would be able to focus on him. To her horror, he was still staring at her and she felt herself blush. Crap! How embarrassing! He was blowing out the smoke in a steady stream and his mouth twitched. Dani hastily picked up the brown envelope with her CV in and stood up. Shit, she’d have to go in, even if she was fifteen minutes early. She dropped her half-full coffee cup in the dustbin next to the railings and walked towards the restaurant entrance.
She couldn’t get the image of his beautiful sculptured mouth out of her head as she walked steadily across the road. That’s all she needed. She had already been nervous and now she was flustered. What was even more disturbing was that she knew he was still watching her. She just hoped she wouldn’t trip up.
As Dani reached the door, her heart thumped against her chest. Calm down; she willed herself. She took a deep breath and pushed open the heavy glass door and stepped inside, pleased she was out of the jogger’s view. She smirked to herself and shook her head, then pushed open the second glass door and walked into the entrance area of La Casa d’Italia.
| About the Author |
Anna-Maria Athanasiou wrote her first books, The Waiting for Summer novels in secret, firstly because she never thought she’d finish them and secondly, it was a completely new territory for her. Throughout her life Anna-Maria had regularly created scenarios and stories in her head, thinking that one day she would finally put them down on paper. Eventually, in the September of 2011 she took the plunge and started to write down an idea that she’d been creating for almost ten years.
Waiting for Summer books one and two are the result of her small idea, and she finally had them published in September 2013 and June 2014. The love story and her characters, Sylvie and Nick, captured the hearts and enthusiasm of her readers, spurring Anna-Maria to carry on with her writing.
Anna-Maria has since been asked to collaborate with other authors on two charity anthologies, and has recently worked together again on a new charity anthology, due to be published soon.
She lives in Cyprus with her family and has penchant for cake, tea, whisky, wine and a healthy obsession with shoes. Anna-Maria loves the fantasy land of romantic fiction, and is passionate about bringing her stories and characters to life.
The first book, For Starters, in her new trilogy La Casa d’Italia series, is now available.