Believe in My Heart
Culinary arts student, Hope Mastriano, is down on her luck. Homeless on Thanksgiving Day, she’s caught trying to break into her cousin’s apartment by her sexy boss and lifelong secret crush.
Since getting dumped seven months ago, head chef Vinnie DiFrancesco has been in a frustrating holding pattern. He returns relaxed from a retreat, but his life is sent into a tailspin when he offers Hope, the event coordinator at his family’s trattoria, temporary housing.
With the trattoria’s traditional Italian Christmas Eve charity dinner slated to be featured on a local TV segment and things heating up in his apartment, the two must set aside their different visions to make the event a success. When a computer glitch threatens their plans, Hope proposes a risky solution. Vinnie must believe in Hope and his heart in order to secure the future of the restaurant and make it a Christmas to remember.
Even from across the room, with his chest bare, every delicious ripple of his stomach was visible. She took in the wide span of his broad shoulders and moved south, stopping only when her gaze met the indentations of his pelvis and the fine line of hair that led down from his belly button to the waistband of his pants.
She must have made a sound because his eyes snapped open.
He held her gaze a moment before tracking down her body, pausing at her breasts and panning back up to her eyes. “Nice jammies.”
Hope hadn’t thought twice when she fell into bed last night, but perhaps her spaghetti-strap holiday PJs imprinted with the phrase “Naughty can be nice” across her breasts wasn’t the smartest sleeping attire.
Turning on her heel, she hightailed it to the bedroom and shut the door, leaning against it.
What the hell? Was he being a smart-ass or teasing her? This playful, almost flirty Vinnie wasn’t someone she recognized.
Should she ignore him or…? She pushed away from the door and paced the room. Or she could play his game and see what happened.
After a moment of deliberation, she traded her pajamas for a cami and yoga pants. This was either the stupidest thing she’d ever done or the smartest. She was hedging on it being the stupidest, but when had that ever stopped her? With that she opened the door.
He’d moved to warrior pose, one leg bent at a ninety-degree angle and the other stretched straight. With his arms spread wide and a body fit for battle, he looked every inch the warrior.
She positioned herself across from him.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
Trying not to notice your ridiculously sexy abs. “Joining you. Is that okay?”
He frowned, and she thought he was going to object.
“Suit yourself,” he said.
She rolled her shoulders, raised her arms to stretch, and began warming up. Since she worked with food, she paid special attention to her diet and had attended a variety of aerobic classes at the gym she used to belong to. Although she’d opted to end her membership and eliminate unnecessary expenses, she’d kept up with exercise on her own and began the familiar sequence.
Now, while in tree pose, she studied Vinnie as he did a forward plank. His body formed a perfect line, and it didn’t even seem as though he were expending any energy to hold the move. She transitioned to triangle pose while Vinnie lowered to the floor and did a pose she’d seen before but had never attempted.
“What’s that one called?” she asked.
“Crow pose.” He bounced back on his feet. “You squat and hook your upper arms underneath your knees. Then you shift forward so your weight is on your hands.” He demonstrated.
“You make it look easy.”
“It is with practice. You want to try?”
Never one to shy away from a challenge, she nodded. “Sure, why not.”
He moved next to her and walked her through the steps. “Keep your arms a little wider than your shoulders. It will ground you better.”
She tried and while she was able to lift her feet off the ground, it was only for a couple inches and a few seconds. “I’m afraid I’ll fall on my head and break my neck.”
He rose. “I’ll spot you.”