Sometimes leaving is the only way home.
Mimi Albizia is at the end of an energizing six-month interlude in Verona, Italy. Before returning to Boston to face the cause of her unjust, forced "break," she spends a final weekend in Venice, soaking up the mystery and romance suffusing its labyrinth of narrow streets and canals.
But after an intriguing encounter with a sexy-as-hell stranger, she takes home more than just a lovely memory—namely, a yearning she can't satisfy.
Jake Bellini is in no rush to accept his predestined position at his family's resort hotel on Martha's Vineyard—or to collect dust in a stuffy law office. At thirty-three, he prefers life at his uncle's Tuscan vineyard, where he pursues his love for winemaking and keeps his relationships casual...
...until meeting Mimi creates new longings, and he realizes life is about much more than grapes and breathtaking sunsets.
How can Jake and Mimi overcome the distance between the weathered coast of New England and the rolling hills of Tuscany?
BELLINI'S MIMOSA is a story about family values, taking risks and following your heart.
Praise for Bellini's Mimosa
"Bellini's Mimosa is as genuine as it is surprising - an intimate look into the lives of two, who never expected love would become their whole world, together."
Denise Birt, Wild Sage Book Blog
"Bellini's Mimosa by Annette G. Anders was like a Romeo and Juliet story built around family, work, friendship, joy, challenges, betrayal, and tears. I loved the unique plot, the lighthearted yet educative storyline, development, and dialog."
Jennifer Ibiam for Readers' Favorite
“I speak three languages,” a guy boasted in English with a strong German accent.
“Ohhh!” a chorus of female voices gushed.
“I’m fluent in Dumb, Moron, and Stupid,” the guy’s unnecessary explanation sliced through the chaotic mixture of voices in the crowded café overlooking the Grand Canal.
Unable to stop herself, Mimi glanced over her shoulder and spotted three giggling young women standing around a blond twentysomething guy.
“Do you know you look like triplets?” he asked his easy-to-impress fan club while casually propping himself against the wrought iron fence surrounding the outdoor tables and folding his arms oh-so-casually.
Another peek confirmed what Mimi already gleaned from the first one—their three different ethnic backgrounds say otherwise—but the apparently smitten teenagers continued to giggle.
If that guy’s the catch of the day, I’ll gladly wait a little longer before I date again.
Since she wasn’t the guy’s target audience, Mimi tuned him out and took a selfie with the Rialto Bridge in the background, then began to type a message to her sister—and almost fell off her stool when an elbow rammed into her ribs.
Her head whipped around.
“Hey, watch it…” she said when two hands gripped her shoulders—and she looked directly into the trilingual moron’s face.
“You look familiar. Have we met before?” he asked, apologies apparently not in his vast vocabulary.
Mimi shook off his hands and returned her attention to her phone—international language for “leave me alone.”
He squeezed his khaki-clad butt between the next chair and hers, also without bothering to apologize to the person sitting there, either.
“I remember! I saw you on the Bridge of Sights,” he said, proud and loud.
Bridge of Sights? Mimi cringed at his misnomer.
“Are you waiting for someone?” He put his foot on the bottom rung of her stool, smack between her feet.
Which. Pissed. Her. Off.
She knew it was impossible to avoid bumping shoulders with strangers in a jam-packed restaurant, but she was still extremely sensitive after her experience with Derek.
She shuddered. Don’t think about it. Shake it off.
“Yeah, I’m waiting all right…for you to leave me alone.” Mimi glared at him, then emptied her glass in one long gulp.
Anger—and frustration—stirred deep in her gut and she dropped her phone into her purse.
This was supposed to be her weekend to say goodbye to the city she’d fallen in love with over the past five months. How dare he ruin it for her?
But instead of wasting time with this fool, she’d be better off if she went ahead and paid the waiter and then found somewhere else to bask—uninterrupted—in Venice’s venerable beauty.
Mimi signaled for the check when she saw a man about her own age winding swiftly through the crowded bar. Hip-hugging jeans covered long legs. A linen blazer hung by a hooked finger over his shoulder, sinewy forearms strained the rolled-up sleeves of his white button-down shirt and hinted at an overall toned body. Short, dark hair and three-day stubble perfected the look.
She fought the urge to fan herself with the menu and hoped her eyes weren’t bulging as much as his biceps.
And almost toppled off the chair for a second time when Mr. Hot stopped next to her, removed his sunglasses, and grinned at her with the most stunning blue eyes she’d ever seen.
With a hand on the low back of her chair, he said in English tinged with a melodious Italian accent, “Ciao, cara. Sorry I’m late.”
His baritone voice and rolled r’s oozed over her like hot fudge over vanilla ice cream.
Suddenly, Mimi craved a scoop of gelato—and wouldn’t mind sharing it with him. Only one spoon needed, of course.
With a flick of his wrist, Mr. Hot suggested to Casanova that he should try his luck elsewhere, and Mimi barely suppressed a chuckle when she watched the kid open his mouth, then close it again and slink away.
“Phew, thank you,” she signaled again for her check.
“Can I persuade you to stay for a drink?” Mr. Hot asked.
“I…” she started, then imagined her BFF poking her, Have some fun, Mim. You’re surrounded by hundreds of tourists.
Mr. Hot’s hypnotic gaze was still on her, and it was hours before she had to catch her train, so she threw caution to the wind and nodded.
“Okay, why not? I couldn’t enjoy my first one.”
Mr. Hot turned to the waiting bartender and said in flawless Italian, “I’ll have an Apérol Spritz and for the lady, whatever she wants.”
Mimi ordered another mimosa and mused about his language pattern. He’d dropped the erotic Italian accent after he greeted her, and now he sounded suspiciously New Englandish. Since she grew up in Boston, it was a very familiar accent.
“Out of curiosity, what made you come to rescue me from the wannabe Casanova?”
He laughed and scratched his chin. “Well, it wasn’t quite as knightly and altruistic as it might have appeared. I was trying to win the race for a table over there.” He pointed to a table for two where new guests just settled.
She followed the direction of his finger and scrunched up her face in a Sorry expression. “Oops…too late now.”
“I got a weird feeling when I saw him cramming you in and assumed you didn’t know him. Something just rubbed me the wrong way.” He studied her intensely. “Please tell me I didn’t interrupt an amorous little chat!”
She laughed. “A little late to ask now, but no, you didn’t. So, seriously, thanks again for getting rid of him.”
“You’re welcome! By the way, I’m Jake.” He stood close enough that she got a whiff of cedarwood, sage, and something earthy. It suited him, and she liked it.
“Short for Jacob, Jacopo, or Giacomo, depending on who you ask,” he whispered right next to her ear, sending delightful shivers down her spine.
Which she also liked.
“Mimi. Or Emily, only Emily.” She matched his tone and held up both hands in a “what can I say” gesture.
“Nice to meet you, Mimi.” The woman behind him vacated her chair and Jake promptly snagged it. “Is this your first time in Venice?”
“No,” she shook her head, “I’ve been living in Verona and visited here several times. But I’m leaving soon and decided to take my time saying goodbye.” She wasn’t quite sure why she told him that but didn’t want to analyze it. “And you?”
“I’m here frequently for business, but don’t always take time to visit. Now I’m glad I decided to spend a few extra hours.” He winked at her, not much more than a flutter of his eyelid, but it was sexy as hell.
After their drinks arrived, they chatted about favorite things to do in Venice and discovered their mutual fondness for exploring the narrow, off-the-beaten-path streets rather than the busy main drags, as well as visiting Murano, the group of tiny islands with world-famous glassmaking studios.
When Jake checked the time a little over an hour later and said he had reservations for the five o’clock train to Florence, Mimi was oddly disappointed. She couldn’t remember having a more enjoyable afternoon in a long time—or being so at ease with a man in an even longer time.
Too bad they didn’t meet months ago, when she first arrived in Italy.
You probably wouldn’t have accepted his invitation for a drink then.
“Would you give me your phone number?” he asked. “If you don’t mind. I’d like to get in touch next time I’m in the area.”
Mimi wrote the number of her Italian burner phone on a scrap of paper without reminding him that she was leaving soon. There was no reason for it—nor for giving him her American number. Once she was back in Boston, today would only be a nice memory.
His thumbs flew over his phone and a moment later, her mobile buzzed. “That’s me. Now you have my number too. If you happen to come to Florence, call me and I’ll show you around.”
After he paid, they walked toward the nearest vaporetto stop so Jake could hop on a water taxi to the train station. When the boat docked, he air-kissed her cheeks, his lips never touching her skin—a perfectly executed informal Italian hello/goodbye greeting.
“It was a pleasure meeting you, Mimi.” When his gaze landed on her mouth, a balmy warmth surged through her that had nothing to do with the mimosas she consumed earlier.
He closed the distance and breathed the hint of a kiss on her lips.