Authors: Melissa Foster
Dreaming of Love
ove in Bloom Series
This is a work of fiction. The events and characters described herein are imaginary and are not intended to refer to specific places or living persons. The opinions expressed in this manuscript are solely the opinions of the author and do not represent the opinions or thoughts of the publisher. The author has represented and warranted full ownership and/or legal right to publish all the materials in this book.
DREAMING OF LOVE
All Rights Reserved.
Copyright © 2014 Melissa Foster
This book may not be reproduced, transmitted, or stored in whole or in part by any means, including graphic, electronic, or mechanical without the express written consent of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Cover Design: Natasha Brown
WORLD LITERARY PRESS
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
A Note to Readers
DREAMING OF LOVE was such fun to write. Italy provided a rich background for Emily and Dae’s incredible love story. I loved Emily so much in her brothers’ books, and
it was her turn to find her happily ever after. I hope you love Emily and Dae as much as I do.
If this is your first Braden book, then you have a whole series of loyal, sexy, and wickedly naughty Bradens to catch up on, as well as several other hot heroes and heroines. You might enjoy starting with SISTERS IN LOVE, the first of the Love in Bloom series. The characters from each series (Snow Sisters, The Bradens, The Remingtons, and Seaside Summers) make appearances in future books.
DREAMING OF LOVE is the eleventh book in The Bradens and the nineteenth book in the Love in Bloom series.
For Lynn Mullan and Alessandra Melchionda
who were gracious enough to share their knowledge
and their time with me in hopes of bringing you a better story
PRAISE FOR MELISSA FOSTER
“Contemporary romance at its hottest. Each Braden sibling left me craving the next. Sensual, sexy, and satisfying, the Braden series is a captivating blend of the dance between lust, love, and life.”
—Bestselling author Keri Nola, LMHC
(on The Bradens)
“[LOVERS AT HEART] Foster’s tale of stubborn yet persistent love takes us on a heartbreaking and soul-searing journey.”
“Smart, uplifting, and beautifully layered.
I couldn’t put it down!”
—National bestselling author Jane Porter
SISTERS IN LOVE
“Steamy love scenes, emotionally charged drama, and a family-driven story make this the perfect story for any romance reader.”
—Midwest Book Review (on
SISTERS IN BLOOM
“HAVE NO SHAME is a powerful testimony to love and the progressive, logical evolution of social consciousness, with an outcome that readers will find engrossing, unexpected, and ultimately eye-opening.”
—Midwest Book Review
“TRACES OF KARA is psychological suspense at its best, weaving a tight-knit plot, unrelenting action, and tense moments that don’t let up and ending in a fiery, unpredictable revelation.”
—Midwest Book Review
“[MEGAN’S WAY] A wonderful, warm, and thought-provoking story...a deep and moving book that speaks to men as well as women, and I urge you all to put it on your reading list.”
“[CHASING AMANDA] Secrets make this tale outstanding.”
“COME BACK TO ME is a hauntingly beautiful love story set against the backdrop of betrayal in a broken world.”
—Bestselling author Sue Harrison
LUSH. VERDANT. HILLY
. Emily stood on the covered balcony of the villa where she’d rented a room just outside of Florence, Italy, overlooking rolling countryside and the spectacular city below. The sun was kissing the last light of day goodbye, leaving chilled air in its wake. She sighed at the magnificent view, wrapped her arms around her body, and gave herself a big hug. She couldn’t believe she was finally here, staying at the villa that her favorite architect, Gabriela Bocelli, built.
Gabriela Bocelli wasn’t a very well-known architect, but her designs exuded simplicity and grace, which Emily had admired ever since she’d first come across this villa during her architecture studies. That felt like a hundred years ago. She’d dreamed of visiting Tuscany throughout school, but in the years since, she’d been too busy building her architecture business, which specialized in passive-house design, to take time off. If it weren’t for one of her older brothers, she might still be back in Trusty, Colorado, dreaming of Tuscany instead of standing on this loggia, losing her breath to the hilly terrain below.
She pulled her cell phone from the back pocket of her jeans and texted Wes.
You’re the best brother EVER! So happy to be here. Thank you! Xox.
Emily had five brothers, each of whom had hounded her about her safety while she was traveling. Or really,
they didn’t have their eyes on her. Pierce, her eldest brother, had wanted to use his own phone plan to buy her a second cell phone with international access.
Just in case
. She’d put her foot down. At thirty-one years old, she could handle a nine-day trip without needing her brothers to rescue her. It wasn’t like she ever needed saving, but her brothers had a thing about scrutinizing every man who came near her. Yet another reason why she didn’t date very often.
Still, she was glad they cared, because she adored each and every one of their overprotective asses.
Adelina Ambrosi appeared at the entrance to the balcony with a slightly less energetic smile than had been present throughout the day. Adelina had run the resort villa with her husband, Marcello, for more than twenty years. She was a short, stout woman with a friendly smile, eyes as blue-gray as a winter’s storm, and wiry gray hair that was currently pinned up in a messy bun. She must have mastered the art of walking quietly to keep from disturbing the guests.
“Good evening, Emily.” Adelina brushed lint from the curtains hanging beside the glass doors. Emily was glad they loved the property as much as she did. They rented out only two rooms of the six-bedroom villa in order to always have space available for family and friends. The villa was a home to them, not just a business, as was evident in the warm guest rooms.
“Good evening, Adelina. Any news on Serafina’s husband?”
Serafina was Adelina and Marcello’s daughter, who had recently moved back home with her eight-month-old son. They’d been living in the States when her husband, Dante, a United States Marine, had gone missing in Afghanistan while out on tour almost three months ago. Adelina had told Emily that she’d begged Serafina to come home and let her take care of her and baby Luca until her husband returned—and Adelina was adamant that he
return. Emily, on the other hand, wasn’t quite so sure.
“Not yet, but I have faith.” Adelina lowered her eyes, and with a friendly nod, she disappeared down the hall in the direction of her bedroom.
Emily turned back toward the evening sky, sending a silent prayer that Serafina’s husband would return unharmed.
“It’s a beautiful view, isn’t it?”
The rich, deep voice sent a shiver down Emily’s spine. She turned, and—
Standing before her was more than six feet of deeply tanned, deliciously muscled male. His hair was the color of warm mocha and spilled over his eyes, hanging just an inch above the collar of his tight black T-shirt. She opened her mouth to greet him, but her mouth went dry and no words came. She reached for the stone rail of the archway she’d been gazing through and managed a smile.
His full lips quirked up, filling his deep brown eyes with amusement as he stepped closer.
“The view,” he repeated as his eyes swept over her, causing her insides to do a nervous dance. The amusement in his eyes gave way to something dark and sensual.
It had been so long since Emily had seen that look directed at her that it took her by surprise. She cleared her throat and reluctantly dragged her gaze back to the view below, which paled in comparison to the one right next to her.
Holy crap. Get a grip
. It must be the Italian air or the evening sky that had her heart racing like she’d just run a marathon.
Or the fact that I haven’t had sex in…
“Awestruck. I hear Italy has that effect on people.” He leaned his forearms on the thick stone rail and bent over, clasping his large hands together.
“Yeah, right. Italy.” Emily’s eyes widened at the sarcasm in her voice. She clenched her mouth shut. She hadn’t meant to say that out loud. He probably had this crazy effect on all women, and here she was gushing over him. She didn’t gush.
. What the hell?
He cocked his head to the side and smiled up at her. Emily saw the spark of something wicked and playful in his eyes, like he could be either in a heartbeat. A hint of danger that Emily thought maybe he knew he possessed. A low laugh rumbled from his chest as he arched a brow.
. She felt her chest and face flush with heat and crossed her arms. A barrier between them. Yes, that’s what she needed, since apparently she couldn’t control her own freaking hormones.
“I’m sorry. I just got in this evening and it was a long trip. Eye fatigue.”
She held her breath, hoping he’d pretend, as she was, that that was the real reason she was ogling him.
“I just arrived myself.” He held a hand out. “Dae Bray. Nice to meet you.”
Emily felt the tension in her neck ease as he accepted her explanation. “Emily Braden. Day? That’s an interesting name.” She shook his strong, warm hand, and he held hers a beat too long, bringing that tension right back to her body—and an entirely different type of tension to her lower belly.
“Maybe I’m an interesting guy. Dae. D. A. E.,” he said, as if he had to spell it often, which she imagined he did. “Is this your first time in Tuscany?”
How could he be so casual, speak so easily, when her heart was doing flips in her chest? He didn’t have an ounce of tension anywhere in his body. He was all ease and comfort, his body moving fluidly as he shifted his position and leaned his sexy hip, clad in low-slung jeans, against the rail. When he crossed one ankle over the other and set his palms on the stone, his T-shirt clung to his wide chest, then followed his rippled abs in a sexy vee and disappeared beneath the waist of his jeans. Her eyes lingered there, desperately fighting to drop a little lower. It took all of her focus to ignore the heat spreading through her limbs and drag her eyes away.