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Today's excerpt is from the novella to be released next Valentine's Day - SUIT. In this scene, Ludwig Fabrinni and Kirsten Friedman have returned from a thirteenth birthday dinner for his daughter, Rosalie. Kirsten was introduced to his family and his ex-wife (amiably), and he's taken her home. He's just beginning to realize his feelings for her.
There’s something appealing about a well-dressed man.
Ludwig Fabrinni has a closet full of expensive suits, a cushy job, and anything else money can buy. What he doesn’t have is love.
The director at a well-known publication company, he’s surrounded himself with textbooks, encyclopedias, and educational materials. But when his boss puts him in charge of the new romance department, his life takes a dive.
Romance? What man reads romance?
Yet when Kirsten Friedman enters his life, everything changes. Can he stop hiding behind his fashionable exterior and find the passionate man she needs him to become?
They stood alone in the dark, dusty corner at the end of the walkway before her apartment door. The moon shed a paltry light that scraped between the worn, iron railings.
“I want to thank you,” Ludwig said.
He stood about a foot from her, close enough she could smell his cologne and the heat emanating from his skin.
His voice grew deep. “For everything. For your grace, that you endured dinner tonight with such poise. For Rosalie’s gift. Kirsten, I …” He stepped forward. “I have to say this.”
His nearness wreathed through her, sending her mind in circles. Ludwig Fabrinni was a powerful personality, passionate when he needed to be and assertive at times. He made up his mind to do things and did them. But at the same time, he was compassionate and willing to express his thanks when it was needed.
“I understand now,” he said.
She wrinkled her brow. Shadows covering his face hid his eyes. “Understand?”
“Yes, why what your ex did hurt so much.”
She backed away from him, and the door knob jabbed into the small of her back. “Galen … he … he waited, even said he didn’t mind. I was twenty-five. That’s a long time for a girl to wait, so I guess I’d built up dreams, an ideal, of what things should be. He was supposed to step into those shoes and carry me away, a fairytale almost. But he couldn’t. I expected too much.”
Ludwig’s palm on her cheek startled her. Cradling her face, he closed the distance between them. “Don’t make excuses for his behavior.”
She made to speak, but he cut her off.
“No, I don’t know what he did. I don’t have to know because I see how it hurts you still. What I do know is any man, no matter how insufficient he feels, should make every effort to live up to his wife’s dreams. In that, he failed. But Kirsten, I am not like him.”
He bent his head over hers.
“I’ve learned from my mistakes. Laurel and I never had any romance. In our case, it wasn’t that I didn’t try to live up to her ideals; it was that we hadn’t any ideals to start with. I gave her everything she needed financially and a name that would move her into social circles. I gave her sweet Rosalie, and she gave Rosalie to me. But we had no goals, nothing we wanted to be together, and so we bickered all the time.”
“And now?” Kirsten asked. “What do you want now?”
He laid one hand, palm flat to the door. “And now I want all those things she and I never had.”
“‘But Humboldt,’” Kirsten changed the tone of her voice, “‘your value to me isn’t found in your worth, not in the size of your estate, or the fineness of your clothes. It isn’t in what you provide me. As nice as the things are, what I want is the heart of the man before me. I want it displayed on his sleeve for all the world to see.’”
Ludwig laughed. “You remember all of that?”
“There’s your part,” she said.
He cleared his throat. “‘Ava, all I have to give that’s of any worth is the very thing you desire.’”
A flash of lightning lit the confined space, highlighting the plains of Ludwig’s face and fervency in his eyes. Thunder pealed, rattling windows and doors down the corridor. He reached for her, pulling her away from the door and into the mist-like rain flying in through the cracks. The wavering blue light from a wall sconce lit raindrops beading on his cheeks. On her own lay tears, the salty drops blending in with those drifting from the sky.
Kirsten became lost in his gaze, in the strength of his arms around her, and the tender caress of his hand on her face. “Is this Humboldt before me or Ludwig?” she asked.
His eyes never faltered. He brought his face within inches of hers. His breath whisked warm on her cheeks. “Ludwig.”
“What would you do now, Ludwig? Because I see your heart on your sleeve.”
His answer breathed into her mouth, “I put it there.”
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.