Investment banking intern Carina Chen doesn’t need any distractions - especially the sexy, guitar-playing barista she rooms with for the summer.
Free spirit Dylan Jewell appreciates the delightful universe of women who vie for his attention. His goal in life is to do good, make happy coffee, and help the homeless.
When Carina moves in, she insists on rules of conduct to quell her instant attraction to Dylan. But when her boss asks her to turn Dylan into a businessman, she can’t think of a reason not to take advantage of his hospitality.
Their chemistry is white hot, but Dylan refuses to play Carina’s game, unable to understand how he can fall in love with a woman who puts profits in front of people. When Carina realizes Dylan isn’t budging, she risks all to gain a single night with him. Will her gambit backfire or will Dylan discover Carina’s true heart before she runs away with his?
Set in Berkeley, California, Whole Latte Love is an opposites-attract romance mixing bluesy rock music, hot, steamy love scenes, and financial shenanigans.
Excerpt #3 (4th of July)
Carina was just starting to relax when the lights dimmed and a familiar voice spoke. She jerked her head toward the band. She could barely see over the heads of the people around her, but her heart clenched when Dylan stepped to the front with his guitar hanging over his shoulder.
“This next song is one I wrote for a woman with a whole lotta heart who walked out of my life not long ago.”
Dylan strummed the first chord and sang:
I was singing in the city,
Guitar in my arms,
When she walked around a corner,
And landed in my lap.
“Let’s dance,” Rob said, tugging Carina into his arms.
“I can’t. I’m sorry.” She averted her face, hoping Dylan hadn’t seen her.
The song continued:
I didn’t know what hit me,
Didn’t see the signs,
But the days became brighter,
And my heart sang with laughter.
I held her in the shower,
And kissed her on the train.
But she left me in the tunnel,
And took my heart away.
Carina staggered from the dance floor.
“What’s wrong? Are you feeling okay?” Rob steadied her.
“No, I need fresh air.” She wrenched herself from his grasp and ran for the stairs. Glancing back, she caught Dylan staring straight at her.
Her heart expanded in her chest and sweat prickled her face. He’d seen her with Rob, and he’d get the wrong idea about her.
Not missing a beat, he sang the chorus:
She’s got a whole latte heart,
And she’s got mine.
She’s got a whole latte love,
And I wish it were for me.
Carina tore up the stairs. She weaved her way through the other partygoers to the upper deck. The wind caught her hair and flung it in her sweaty face. She bent over the rail, heaving. He said she had his heart. What did that mean?
Rob caught up with her. “Are you sick? Anything I can get you?”
“No, nothing.” She bowed her head in her hands. “I’m sorry. Can you let me sit here alone? I’m not feeling well.”
“I’ll sit with you.” He led her to a cushioned bench.
“Please, Rob. I need to be alone. I enjoyed our outing, but I don’t want to ruin the evening for you.”
Rob glanced around impatiently and shrugged. “True. I’ve been wanting to chat up a few associates who graduated from my university. I’ll catch you when it’s time to go.”
She nodded and flashed him a smile, then put her head between her arms and took slow, deep breaths. Dylan’s voice replayed in her mind and drew chills down her spine along with wanting and missing him. Even though she’d been working most of the time she lived at his place, she’d never forget the fun, from the welcome party to frolicking in the community garden.
Every morning, he had a foamy milk heart for her. He’d made her laugh, given her hope, and flirted with her, made her feel wanted, special.
The memory of that long kiss in the tunnel under the Bay gave her goose bumps. Every word he sang was true. She’d left him when she moved out. She hadn’t given him a chance to explain and worst of all, she hadn’t let him know how she felt about him.
She leaned her chin on the rail and closed her eyes, waiting for the evening to pass. The boat motored slowly around the bay among other small craft, and the movement lulled her into a daze.
“I want to take you to the highest mountaintop and kiss the air out of your lungs.” Dylan’s voice hovered above her.
Was she dreaming? How long had he been standing there? Carina’s eyes snapped open and her pulse quickened. Moonlight framed Dylan’s brown hair and his eyes pooled dark blue, earnest and yearning. She reached for him as he closed his arms around her.
“I missed you,” he whispered in her hair.
“I missed you too.”
The sound of fireworks shooting into the air drew her attention, and explosions echoed in her heart. Flowers of fireworks dazzled the night sky, red, white, and blue, arcing straight up from the pier.
About the Author
Rachelle Ayala is the author of dramatic fiction crossing genres and boundaries featuring strong but flawed characters. She writes emotionally challenging stories and is not afraid of controversial topics. However, she is an optimist and laces her stories with romance and hope.
Rachelle is an active member of online critique group, Critique Circle, an active member of the California Writer’s Club, Fremont Chapter, and a volunteer for the World Literary Cafe. She is a very happy woman and lives in California with her husband. She has three children and has taught violin and made mountain dulcimers.
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