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LOVE IN BROKEN PLACES

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Blurb

Tatiana is a young, beautiful and independent lady who has had the most unfortunately sinister childhood. She claws her way out of lack and is trying to heal from her troubling past when a rude, handsome-as-hell widower with a scarred past as well moves to town and turns her world upside down. Will Tatiana face this challenge head-on as she has in the past, will she run from her conflicting emotions or will she embrace the one thing she's always been so scared of?

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Genesis...
It began with a single knock on the door. Almost inaudible, hesitant even: as though the caller had suddenly developed a case of cold feet and left. Followed immediately by forceful banging on the already rickety wooden door that had seen many summers and many winters. More minutes of mindless, ear-splitting struggle and the hinges protested loudly and gave way. Through half-open eyes and from her place behind the closet where mama had made her hide, Tatiana saw a form that resembled her father's make it's way through the door-or what used to be the door. The man had papa's golden brown hair, the distinct crooked nose and the scar across the left cheek she'd recognize any day. He even wore papa's blue overalls and worn work boots. The spitting image of her father; except why did he have a bloodied crowbar and mama's favorite scarf in his hands, the stench of bitter misfortune about him and the look of death in his sunken, bloodshot eyes? Several hours after all returned to calm-or the semblance of it, Tatiana crept out of her hideout on shaky legs and quivering bottom lip. The house as it were was in sharp contrast to Mama's squeaky clean polished upholstery, shiny mantel and ash-free fireplace immaculateness. Debris littered the living area and the curtains suddenly seemed threadbare, as though a savage beast had combed through them with claws the length of the Eiffel tower. The roof itself hung dangerously low near the terrace, threatening to empty it's asbestos bowels any moment. Even mama's otherwise meticulously manicured garden now held a disarray of empty bottles, a disbanded watering can and a shovel that had materialized from God knows where. Tatiana walked through the house like the lone survivor of some sort of zombie apocalypse. Which was a terribly good explanation for the awful arena unveiling before her horror-striken eyes. "Mama?" Tatiana called out wondering where her mother was and why she had yet come to fetch her. Her mother had said, nay, promised to come get her when it was all over. Her answer was on the other side of the bathroom door. Broken vase in hand, there in the cold marble tub with her hair in unsightly upheaval, a pool of crimson that was continuously trickling out the side of her head which seemed broken, lay mama. Sweet mama! Cheerful mama! Tatiana's mama! Her gray eyes were perfectly still and glazed over like those of the porcelain dolls Tatiana had gotten on her 8th birthday. Alas! There was no time to mourn. Or even to scratch the earth near the dandelions in Mama's garden and lay her violates body to rest. For in the very same minute, Tatiana saw the strange man she had seen upturning the furniture and breaking Mama's china in the living room. The man with papa's facial markings, papa's hair and worn work boots, the one brandishing a crowbar which he raised high above his head and brought it down with a violence so savage in nature it made the insides of Tatiana's bones go cold. She unconsciously let out a yelp and he turned to look at her through the bathroom window with a palpable rage burning in his expression. It was at precisely that point Tatiana knew she had to run, run, run as fast as a thirteen year old girl could. Whether to safety or to the cursed life of a street urchin, she didn't know. But run, Tatiana did: heart hammering in her chest, gall on her tongue and her heart in a bazillion shards because of what she'd seen. What her father had done! Tatiana's nightmares always left her feeling like she had been in some parallel universe where people armed with all sort of dangerous weapons were chasing after her. This time, she had woken up to a cold sweat just as the monster was about the run her through with a spear. Her aunt had said the nightmares would definitely cease. Why then was she still plagued with this scourge even years after the incident that had changed her life forever? With a sad scowl on her face, she put her finger to her iPhone's sensor to unlock it. From behind her curtains, she could hear the muted patter of rain against her window panes. Tia loved the smell of earth and greenery when it rained. On rainy mornings such as this, she preferred to stay in bed catching up on her favorite rom-coms with a cup of steaming beverage in one hand and her feet in comfy multi colored socks. None of that would happen today though, she noted sadly as she made quick work of her messy bed and fluff puffs. Mondays have got to be the worst day of the week! Mr. Lorenzo would have her head if she showed up the tenth of a second late. She looked up and caught a glimpse of the glow-in-the-dark time markers her best friend Kendra had convinced her to buy from the store two blocks away. Tia didn't understand the girl's obsession with aesthetics. Nobody relied on wall clocks for time these days. She purchased the thing anyways, just so Kendra would stop going on about it. "Shoot!" She muttered under her breath and made a dash for the lights. She regretted putting them on almost immediately as they were too bright causing her to reach for her cat ear rimmed spectacles. Kendra loved to refer to them as goggles or binoculars just to get on her last nerve. But they weren't even half as bad as Kendra made them sound! They were fashionable in their own way. Kendra just thought Tatiana had grandma taste. At least they did the job perfectly and she'd take not being a Kardashian if it meant she could go about her day as a normal human being. As pretty as they looked against her creamy complexion, chestnut brown hair and plush rosy lips, her hazel eyes were as good as a bat's at day. Realizing she had less than an hour to prepare for work, Tatiana made her way to the dresser and studied her sleepy face for a bit. Her usually lustrous curls were an infinite mess and she knew by the image staring back at her she had a long way to go getting ready today. Good thing the hotel had a strict dress code and she wouldn't have to comb her little wardrobe searching for what to wear. She got out of her nightclothes and slipped into the bathroom for a quick shower. As she brushed her teeth, she ran her hands on the fluffy bathrobe Kendra had gotten her for Valentine's day with matching fur flip flops, some lilies, a box of Danish cookies and chocolate plus a note which read: "Happy Valentine's Tia! If you have a man by this time next year, maybe you won't have to make do with these fake Valentine's gifts from me. Do you not want to be taken on private trips to the Maldives? Also, maybe you wouldn't be showering alone * wink*" She smiled at the fond memory and shook her head at her friend's impossibly dry humor. She made a mental note to call Kendra later to ask how the new job/operation find-a-silk- stocking-man was going. Kendra and Tia had met one rainy night in the neighboring town, Port Glacery during one of of Tia's visits to her beloved Aunt Beth who counted as the only family she still had. It had been Tia's birthday and she'd hung out with some old buddies from highschool: Matt, Christie and Damon. Hilariously, Kendra and Tatiana first came to know one another during an altercation over a cab Kendra had hailed but had the rather maddening misfortune of getting there just after Tatiana had already settled in the passenger seat. The pair had stuck to one another like a stamp to a letter thereafter. Now three years after their chance meeting, Tatiana worked with an upmarket hotelier in Saint Relster and Kendra had gotten a juicy offer from a telecommunications firm in suburban West Squixan. Back at her dresser, Tiana slipped into some underwear and her beige dress with matching pumps, work blazer and scarf and headed outside, car keys and purse in hand. She was going to make a quick stop at the drive-through diner just around the corner before heading to work. Bittersweet memories of the family she'd once had threatened to resurface but Tia pushed against them with all of her willpower. She just couldn't understand how such a loving man could turn into a monster. She was going to have to deal with that later. Right now, she needed to get that paper. Thankfully, things had began to look good for her and she could afford rent and basic necessities.Things have been tough but at least she no longer needed to go back to the smelly street corner she'd called home for a few years. She was doing well! She was a survivor. Who would've thought? Putting her purse in the passenger seat, she fastened her seatbelt and put the key in the ignition. It was already 6:30am. With any luck and little traffic, she could be at work before the 7:30am deadline imposed by Mr. Pietro Lorenzo. CHAPTER 2 "Good morning Rowan" Tia called out to her co-worker who was already seated at his spot behind the reception desk. She gave him a warm smile as she handed him a cup of coffee. "Decaf, two sugars and cream, just as you like it" Tia smiled cheerily as he took the paper cup from her, obviously delighted with herself. "Oh darling Tatiana, what would I ever do without you?" He gasped, flashing her a generous grin. Rowan was a good natured chap and it was their little unspoken ritual: she'd get them both coffee on her way to work and in return, he'd tell her how mighty lovely she looked. A fair exchange, Tia thought to herself. Not that she minded though, Rowan was good people. It was Rowan who had found her scavenging scrap clothing behind the department store and offered his help. He'd asked what a pretty girl like her was doing there. Their relationship had quick transitioned from street strangers to buddies till the day he'd offered her his couch and told her there was some vacant position at the place he works. Rowan always seemed to have a piece of advice handy and was married with a son half Tatiana's age. A pretty faced man, even in his 50s with graying hair sleeked down to perfection. He always had Tatiana's back even when he didn't need to. It was as though he saw her as the daughter he'd never sired. "What did you do to your hair, babygirl? It's gi-vvvi-nng!" He said in his usual sing-song manner. "You say that everyday Rowan, but thank you" Tia said, and rolled her eyes at Rowan. "...and I'd keep saying it. What do I have to do to get you to go on a date with Jeremy from accounting? What do you say: a nice evening somewhere fancy, with an honorable gentleman?" Rowan queried. "Oh, I'm sure that'd be lovely Mr. Hayes but then these bills don't get paid when I go out frolicking with strange men." Tia said matter-of-factly and grinned. "Jeremy's no stranger. He's been begging for a date for nearly 14 months now Tiana. Give the man a chance" He said and faked a sad face. "We still have TV night on the weekend, yes?" She asked, in a bid to change the topic "I see what you did there. You're too smart for your own good. Think about it though, would you? Have a nice day Ms. Langston" He said to her now retreating form. "You bet!" Tia called out as she headed for her desk. As the concierge at Primrose Oriental, it was her duty to receive guests and make sure they were given the attention due royalty through their stay. With any luck, some well heeled patrons would stroll in today. More work, but that also meant more hours working, and more tips. Tia did love her job. Sure, Mr. Lorenzo did make it a little less unsavoury sometimes but Tia knew it was just part of his job as Head of operations at Primrose Oriental. Besides, the man was efficient at his job and liked to send the cash rich patrons her way. The perks of a pretty face and a honeyed tongue, he oft reminded her. Aha! Speak of the devil! The intercom buzzed and Tia knew it would be Mr. Lorenzo with an errand for her. "Goodday Missus Langston" Mr. Valastro said in his heavily accented voice. Did all Italians speak this way or it was just him? Tia thought to herself. Not that his accent was bad, it just sounded like he was going to burst out in some tribal diatribe mid-sentence. "Good morning Boss" Tia replied, cheerily. "Hmmm" he said in acknowledgment of her greeting and continued. "I have a VIP coming in today by 9am. I sent the details to your mail. Listen Tia, I want you to have a car and pick him from the airport" "Got it!"Tia was already clicking away at the system, trying to find details of said VIP from her mail. "9am Tia, not a second later. This is a VVIP" Mr. Lorenzo admonished. "I'm on it . Which of our suites would you have me reserve for him Sir?" Tia asked as she pulled out the itinerary for available luxury suites. "I'm not sure Tatiana, don't I pay you to do stuff like this? His budget is stated in the mail I sent you. Get the man befitting bed space" Two beeps and he was gone. Well, seems like her prayer had already been answered. Now she had a VIP on her a hands and she had her game face on. Tia went to work assigning patrons to rooms, attending to complaints and there was a couple in 118 asking for canapes to be sent up to their room. At 8am, she put a call through to the rental company and had a black SUV brought out front. Wait time was 15 minutes. Okay, enough time for some research. In the meantime, she opened her mail to get some background info on the VIP It said simply: "Quinn Trevino, VP Le Paix Real Estate ." No picture or description she noted. She'd just have to meet the man herself then. He was probably some silver haired money bag with more cash than he could possibly spend, out for a week of relaxation and cheap thrills( well in his case, there would be nothing cheap about the thrills) She checked the budget specifications Mr. Lorenzo had sent and went ahead to reserve one of the hotel's deluxe suites. Should serve quite nicely. It was one of the house's finer suites complete with a king-size bed, silk furnishings, underfloor heating, a marble-floored bathroom as well as a hydromassage tub. Okay! The man was a VVIP alright, this should work. She wondered if he would show up with a Mrs. Trevino in tow or maybe some exotic, long-legged, ample-bossomed model with a foreign accent. The kind that men of his calibre often opt for. Tatiana could already sense some serious drama brewing and she was here for it! Over the years, she'd mentally scrutinized former patrons of the Primrose Oriental and she'd come to the conclusion that where money went, drama followed. Like fish and water. Many a jealous wife had had their husband followed in desperate hopes of uncovering some weekend rendezvous with a usually younger woman-and found a cupboard full of skeletons. Would this Mr. Trevino follow this trend? Or would he create some all of his own? She wondered as she got her purse, adjusted her scarf and headed for the foyer. The SUV driver had just sent a text to say he was outside. "Well, this should be fun" Tia said and walked out, clicking her heels excitedly on the marble tiles and with the confidence of Cleopatra as she walked to the ride she'd requested. CHAPTER 3 Tatiana got to the airport a good 10 minutes early. She figured she'd wait outside the arrival/departure lounge for Mr. Trevino. That way, he'd find her by the main exit just adjacent the baggage claim area. Time trickled by rather quickly and soon the formerly near-silent reception became a beehive. Tia was combing the crowd for her guest even though she had absolutely no idea what the man looked like. With any luck, he'd see his name written boldly on the card in her hand and locate her. She imagined having to assist the gregarian all the way back to the car. The place was swarming with tourists oohing and ahhhing at the sculptures on display at the airport. For a little while during her formative years, Tatiana had shared a keen interest for art which had however waned over the years. She'd simply grown too busy to care.q Some teens in biker shorts and brightly colored shirts were conversing really loudly. There was a little Indian woman with a sun hat, waist length black hair masterfully made into a single twist and a beautiful sari at baggage claim. Just to her right, a young mother was reunited with her husband and kids; a giggly boy of about 5 and a toddler who burst out in loud, remorseless tears of jot at the sight of her mother Awwww. Adorable! It was quite the shift from the ambience she was used to at the hotel. In the far East corner, Tia could see some honeymooners making out just beside the escalators. "Yikes! Get a room or something" She said and rolled her eyes. Though in some long buried part of her heart, she did want that for herself: to be able to love someone to the point of distraction, to cherish another human and know you'd do just about anything to put a smile on their face. To have someone other than Kendra or Rowan she could call when her spirits were dampened or... "Excuse me?" A deep male voice cut through her thoughts. She hadn't heard or seen him walk up to her. Tia turned abruptly, almost stepping on the old lady in grey overalls and a ridiculously huge garland hanging on her shoulders passing by. "Good afternoon Sir!" She managed, regaining her balance and righting her glasses. "Can I help you with something?" She inquired, wondering why the man was looking at her like she was speaking in a different language. "I'm Mr. Trevino, Quinn Trevino. You have my name on your card?" He sounded irritated "Oh, yes yes. I'm Tatiana Langston from the Primrose Ori..." "Riggght. They sent a maid to fetch me. Unbelievable. Did they at least send a car or are we to stand here just moping at each other Miss Mariana" he barked. Tatiana put on her most graceful smile and continued. She'd dealt with less than courteous patrons before, familiar territory. "Tatiana, I'm Tatiana Lan..." "Heard you the first time MARIANA. Now where's the car?" He retorted. Tatiana swallowed slowly. Something about the way he deliberately got her name wrong really got under her skin but she was determined to not show her annoyance at his rudeness. "This is going to be a long ride" she thought to herself. She reached for his suitcase but obviously in some sort of mood, he ignored her and headed towards the car parking area. "Okay..." A confused Tatiana said and led the way to the black SUV she'd come in. Hopefully, this was to his majesty's liking. She opened the door and held it for him to get in. He walked briskly to the passenger seat, opened the door for himself and hopped in. Tia had the overpowering urge to ask him right then what his problem was but she did really need this job. She got into the car and pulled the door shut. He was nothing like she'd imagined, that was for sure. There was no grey hair at all! From the corner of her eye, she took in his perfectly tailored suit, the lapel pin he wore, neatly polished monk straps and tall frame. This kind of man, in Kendra's books qualified as prime boyfriend material. Not that she cared though. The man had quite the nasty attitude. In been 30 minutes he'd managed to annoy her. Tatiana wasn't going to let him get to her though. She was employee of the month three months running for stuff like this:handling volatile situations with pleasantness. No fancy-suit-clad, sunglass wearing patron was going to get to her. Prior to meeting him, she had imagined a man with such affluence would be well into his 60s. She hadn't the slightest idea Mr. Quinn Trevino was going to be this dark haired, broad chested hunk of a man. A grumpy hunk, if she might add. She wondered what it was that had him so sprung up and if there was anything she could do(as his concierge of course!) to ease his discomfort. She wondered if she should even bother, or run for dear life... Usually, Tatiana took advantage of the trip from the airport to ask the guest how their trip had gone and to give them a brief history of the beautiful town of Saint Relster as well as show them important landmarks just incase she could make them schedule a visit to any of those spots. Judging by how curtly Mr. Trevino had been thus far, she was going to make a raincheck on that. The SUV sped past a group of schoolchildren playing dodgeball in a lawn with the sprinklers on. Tatiana wondered when last she'd let her hair down and played with such glee and reckless abandon. She used to be such a spirited child. Till her childhood had been rudely interrupted and now, she was in full survival mode. She looked from underneath her lashes at Mr. Trevino and wondered if he'd had a childhood at all; if somewhere behind his serious face and commando looks, there was a compassionate 10-some year old willing to play in the full glare of the sprinklers. Mr. Trevino seemed to be seriously interested in whatever it was he was scrolling through on his iPad. Either that or he was trying desperately to avoid any form of conversation. Whatever the case might be, Tatiana was determined to make him enjoy his stay at the hotel at least. It was her job after all. For now, she was doomed to this quiet and rather uncomfortable trip back to the Oriental. Shucks! CHAPTER 4 The trip to the hotel had been one awkward ride and Tatiana was glad it was finally over. She hoped to see Mr. Trevino to his room and enjoy the rest of her day attending to more pleasant patrons. Retrieving his key card, Mr. Trevino headed for the stairs without a second glance or even a faked thank you. "Excuse me Mr. Trevino, the elevators are right this way" Tatiana called out to his retreating form but for whatever reason he seemed so intent on punishing himself (and her), he ignored her. Great! Now she was going to have to follow him up the stairs to make certain he does not lose his way. Up six flights of dizzying staircase. Just great!" Well, she'd better get to it before she lost sight of him. The hotel itself was a huge maze of rooms and pillars and it wouldn't be the first time a guest had taken a wrong turn and ended up in an entirely different wing. This was one of those days Tatiana wished she had opted to work in smaller Air BnB or some roadside motel with ten rooms. This Trevino guy was stretching her very limits! Around her, everyone was going about their business as usual. Room service carts being wheeled away, guests arriving or leaving and hotel staff going to and fro at the beck and call of patrons She passed the head housekeeper barking out instructions to a cleaner on her way to the fifth floor and just about caught a glimpse of her target as he eased into the lobby of the tenth floor. Afraid she was going to lose him again if she as much as blinked, she pressed her gaze on his back. If she wasn't in such a hurry, she'd have stopped by the huge glass window to look at the view of the city from here. Rowan usually told her if she looked closely, she might see an angel fly past the window. Her feet already felt mangled in her heels and she was sweating, causing her hair to cling to her forehead. Nearing a corner, she saw him standing behind the new painting management had installed barely a month ago. Aha! There he was, the picture of calmness. Goodness gracious, the man didn't even seem tired after all of that walking. "Mr. Trevino!" She called out in-between gasps. She was going to need some glucose at this rate. "If you would just stop for a minute, I was trying to tell you to use the elevators and avoid getting lost within the hotel" she said in the calmest voice she could pull out of her parched voice box. No reply. The man just stood there in perfect stillness and she wandered what fascinated him so much about the painting before him. It was just two little girls running through a flowery field "Mr. Trevino... I was saying your roo..." "If you would just hold your tongue for two minutes, that would be great. Do you think you could do that?" He turned to face her, giving her a cold glare. "My apologies Sir. It's my job to..." "To tail your guests till they beg to be rid of you? Is this some move to get more bills off me? Or would you rather first follow me to my bed? Isn't that all you women want?" He ground out mercilessly, looking her up and down almost as though he were sizing her up and stripping her clothes in his mind. Tatiana couldn't believe the man had just implied she was a p********e. All her life, she'd tried to be nice to others and it didn't matter what she was going through. It made no sense to her that this total stranger was being mean just because she was doing her job. That was crossing the line and she was going to give him a piece of her mind! "First, I find your referring to me as a w***e quite offensive and I was just looking out for a client's safety. Also, I have done nothing to you so this transfer of agression is totally uncalled for. You don't have to be mean to people just because you're having a bad day. What's more? Your room is two floors below. I'd have told you that if you would've just stopped and not stormed away like you did" having said her mind, Tia turned and left him standing there. Probably too stunned a lowly employee would lash out at him. Well, he could choke on his broken pride for all she cared. She was going to go back to her little office and probably get a headstart at clearing out her desk before Mr. Lorenzo had the chance to fire her. Tatiana could almost already feel the tears forming in her eyes. She wanted nothing more than to curl up in a ball somewhere dark and cry. The day had began with so much optimism and now she was going to lose her job and only source of livelihood because of some mean trust fund kid. Why did rich people have to be so condescending all the time? Was there something about having money that made people lack empathy and basic etiquette? She could only wonder as she'd never had the comfort of luxurious lifestyle. The elevators would've been a much better choice but Tatiana didn't want to have to explain why her mascara was running down her cheeks in black rivulets. She headed for the stairs again. With any luck, she'd have some time to think about what she was going to do. Tiana ran into Rowan just before she got into her cubicle and she couldn't hold the tears back anymore. They came down in torrents soaking the lapel of her blazer. "Hey ! Come here" Rowan looked at her quizzingly and gathered her in his arms. He just let her cry and pat her back gently, waiting for her to have her full. Sometimes, understanding was all Tatiana needed. Several minutes passed before Tatiana stopped crying and dabbed at her face with the handkerchief Rowan handed her. "Do you want to talk about what happened?" Rowan asked, getting up to stand closer to her. "Not at the moment, no. Besides, I have some work to do at least before I get fired" she righted her blazer whilst moving over to her simple desk and pulling out a drawer. First thing she saw was the picture of her parents cradling a baby Tatiana. She always kept this close so she could think of what mama would say at times like this if she were here, if she had done something to pull her out of the prison that had been mama's marriage. One that had eventually cost mama her life and Tatiana her childhood... "The boss is not going to fire his employee of the month Tiana. It's going to be alright. I'd be here when you're ready to talk about it" Rowan reached for the hand still clinging to the picture frame and took it out of her hand.

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