The Winemaker

by Charmaine Pauls

Etán Perez-Cruz, world-renown winemaker, excels in everything he puts his mind to, but self-expression. When an intoxicating woman crashes head first into his life, he finds a way to communicate his feelings through his wine bouquets. As knowing Zenobia becomes a hedonistic pleasure, he fights to keep her safe, and to keep his all-consuming desire from destroying her happiness ... and his brother. Etán will need more than his exceptional talent of taste and smell to overcome the dangerous obstacles set in their path.

Zenobia Rambling considers everything about herself utterly average. Leaving England to marry her boyfriend in South America, she finds herself dumped three short weeks after her arrival. Going home is not an option. Zenna possesses a visionary gift that has become her curse. Out of love, luck and money, Zenna turns to her famous Chilean neighbor for a temporary solution ... and finds far more in the deal than she has bargained for.


Chapter One

Zenobia blinked twice. She didn’t hear right. Obviously, she was delusional. It was a joke. Marcos was going to laugh at her now, at her reaction to his sick sense of humor, then she was going to chide him for his insensitivity, and they would eat her chicken-broccoli casserole.

She pinched her eyes shut, hoping if she opened them again, she would wake from a dream, or from one of her hated visions. When she did, Marcos still sat there at their kitchen table, as handsome as ever with his crop of sleepyhead, blond hair and chocolate pudding eyes. He regarded her with a mixture of pity and regret—mostly pity. His puppy eyes looked wounded, as if she had dealt the blow and he was the one suffering.

“You’re leaving me, Marcos?” Her words sounded like a dumb echo of his. His was a sure statement. Hers was a question.

“That’s what I said.”

She cradled her cooling mug of tea in the hollows of her palms. “But I’ve cooked and everything. Chicken casserole.” Catching his eyes, her voice trailed off when she saw the finality there.

He looked away and focused on his new three hundred dollar shoes. “I’ve made up my mind.”

“Look at me!” She didn’t mean to yell, but she couldn’t help herself. Marcos hated screamers.

He finally lifted his eyes, but not to meet hers. He fixed his gaze on the wall clock. “I suppose we should talk about practicalities.”

“I said look at me!” Her voice raised another decibel.

When he turned his head hesitantly in her direction, careful, as if he expected a physical blow, she swallowed hard and slowed her breathing. “I’ve just arrived in Santiago three weeks ago.” We’ve only slept together last night, she wanted to say, but she bit her lip. Instead, she focused on reason. “I left my country, my job, my flat, my car, my family... God, I even gave away my cat for you. I gave up everything to follow you here.”

It took all the self-control she could muster not to cry. “You asked me to come here, remember?” Yes, he had to give in to reason, if not to his feelings. “You said you couldn’t live without me...” Her voice wavered. She looked expectantly at him, an underlying question quivering underneath the bravery she tried to force. “You said we should get married.”

When he said nothing, silence his only defense, it was Zenna’s turn to look away. Her hand went to her ponytail. Maybe if he hadn’t come home to find her in an oversized tracksuit with messy hair... She should have dried it properly, instead of bundling it into an elastic band.

“It’s not fair, Zenna, to blame me.” His voice sounded loud in the unnatural silence of the kitchen. “I didn’t know my feelings were going to change.”



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