Whether it’s Spring or Autumn where you live, it’s always a good time of year for comfort food and a good sweet romance. So snuggle in with the Autumn’s Kiss anthology while you savor an apple turnover. You’ll find the recipe below.
My contribution to the anthology is Soft Burgundy Nights. Here is an excerpt for your reading enjoyment. I hope you like it, as well as the other amazing stories filled with romance. You can enter to win a copy of my new release by commenting on my blog.
Rafaele Marchetti drove up to the front of his childhood home. Stepping out of the rented black SUV he looked around at the vines, heavy with ripe grapes, ready to be relieved of their burden. His attention then travelled to the sprawling three-story stone villa with wide steps leading up to the double doors. A grape-shaped placard with the Marchetti name adorned the area over the door. It had rained earlier. The sunlight gleamed off the wet stones. Everything was exactly as it had been the last time he’d seen it ten years ago, the day he had graduated college and left.
When he could not delay any longer he grabbed his suitcase out of the back and walked up the steps. He put his hand on the doorknob and turned it. It was unlocked as usual. He shook his head. How many times had he told his dad to keep it locked? Some things never changed.
Setting his suitcase down by the door, he walked further into the house. It was quiet. Finally, he saw movement in the pool. Surely, the old man wouldn’t be crazy enough to be swimming after just having had a heart attack. He hurried outside. When he stepped out he saw his father sitting in a chair on the patio, watching the swimmer.
Relieved that it wasn’t his father in the pool he momentarily forgot about the swimmer, focusing on his father instead.
“Son. How was your flight?”
“Long.” Although he was expecting his father to look ill, he was still shocked at the pallor of the older man’s skin. He had also lost weight, and several lines had formed on his face. Rafaele couldn’t help wonder how many of those wrinkles were his fault.
His father nodded, never looking up at him. The silence was broken by a splash in the water. Rafaele turned in time to see a laughing golden goddess emerge, with pale yellow hair streaming down her back and shoulders. He had never seen anything so perfect.
“I finally did it, Leo. Did you see me?” She asked. She hadn’t seen Rafaele yet because he was partially hidden from her view by a wooden pillar.
“I sure did, told you if you practiced enough you could do it.” Rafaele stiffened when his father’s voice softened as he spoke to her. His eyes narrowed as he watched the exchange between them.
“You were right, as always. Don’t let that go to your head, and don’t tell anyone I said that because I will deny it.” She dried off quickly and pulled on a sheer turquoise cover-up while she chatted, never looking up. “I’ve let you distract me from work enough for one day. It’s time I head back to the office to…” Her words stalled on those beautiful, full red lips when she spotted him, as he was now leaning against the pillar in full view, arms crossed.
“I didn’t realize we had company.” Her smile looked forced.
We? She lived here with his father? He did nothing to hide neither his skepticism, nor his admiration of her barely concealed curves as she walked toward him. Her step faltered when their eyes met, but she continued forward. When they were a mere two feet apart she stopped and extended her hand.
“I’m Jessica Rayne. It’s nice to meet you, Rafaele. I recognize you from the pictures around the house.”
So she had access to the whole house. Did that include his father’s bedroom? He studied her for a moment, her bright smile fell slightly as she bit her lip. Her ice blue eyes chilled the longer he hesitated.
Standing up straight and uncrossing his arms, he accepted her hand. “Miss Rayne. I didn’t know my father had house guests, how long are you staying?”
Before she could answer, Leo barked out, “This is Jessie’s home. She is not a guest. I expect you to treat her as a member of the family while you’re here.”
Rafaele raised a brow at her, his attention never leaving hers as he replied to his father. “Should I call her ‘Mom?'”
Her eyes narrowed, and she yanked her hand out of his. “I have to get back to work Leo. I won’t be home for dinner.”
She brushed passed Rafaele and was on the threshold when Leo stopped her. “I expect you here for dinner, Jessie. Don’t disappoint me.”
She looked from Leo to Rafaele and without another word, she went into the house.
Jessica closed the door to her room and with her back against the door, slid down to the floor. She was shaking. Her greatest fear was downstairs in the form of Rafaele Marchetti, a six-foot-two Italian male, with dark curly hair and gray eyes she felt could see to her soul when he looked at her.
When Leo had his heart attack she had feared for him, but she also feared for herself. If he died, she would lose the only family she had ever had, as well as her home. Leo had assured her he’d made plans for her future, but he refused to tell her what they were.
Now, with Rafaele back, there was a great possibility she would have to leave eventually. Leave her home and Leo. She was no longer the scared eighteen-year-old girl with no home and no family she had been seven years ago. She was a confident woman with a college education and a great job.
If she was so confident, why was she sitting on the floor, hugging her knees? How could she let him reduce her to a quivering, scared little girl by means of a scathing glare and a few words? She unhooked her arms from her legs and stood up. She was made of sterner stuff. As for his comment about calling her “Mom,” how dare he accuse her of something like that.
- 4medium apples, peeled and chopped
- 2tablespoons butter
- 1/2cup packed brown sugar
- 1teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2teaspoons cornstarch
- 1sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water)
- 1Heat oven to 400°F. Line cookie sheet with cooking parchment paper.
- 2In 2-quart saucepan, heat apples, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch to boiling over medium-high heat. Reduce heat; simmer about 5 minutes or until thickened and apples are tender. Set aside to cool slightly.
- 3Sprinkle work surface lightly with flour. Roll out thawed puff pastry into 15-inch square. Cut into 4 smaller squares.
- 4Brush each square with egg wash; spoon apple mixture onto center of each. Fold each in half diagonally to form a triangle; press edges together to seal. Use back of fork to crimp edges. Transfer to cookie sheet; brush with egg wash. Use sharp knife to cut a few vents into each turnover.
- 5Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until golden.
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