Published by the author on November 26, 2014
Genres: Contemporary Romance
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When Kati Dunai travels to Budapest to settle her father's estate, the last thing on her mind is the pursuit of pleasure. She's a busy international conference planner, her life rooted in Manhattan.
But from the moment she sets foot in the city of her father's youth, it's pleasure that pursues her. At the thermal bath spa hotel where she's staying, she meets a Dutchman who reminds her of Béla Dunai, her Hungarian refugee father, who fled his homeland shortly after its 1956 revolution.
Jan Klassen is in Budapest to mend from a motorcycle accident. His scars have healed on the outside, but inside, he cannot forgive himself for the consequences his son now lives with forever.
Jan has never met a woman like Kati before. Her blend of New England restraint with gypsy spirit captivates him. While Jan introduces Kati to Budapest's leisurely pace of life, Kati introduces Jan to her own leisurely pace of sensual exploration as their attraction to each other grows over six magical days.
When Kati returns to New York, their relationship continues. But it's not just an ocean that separates them. Kati's corporate job with frequent travel is the antithesis of the slow-paced pleasures she enjoyed in her father's favorite city, one of Europe's crown jewels.
Which will Kati put first—her new career or her new love; a man who reminds her of the father she never fully understood? And is it the Hungarian pleasure-loving side of herself that she really needs to understand before she can offer her heart to the man who has awakened her to who she truly is?
How could she not notice being noticed? Floating in a thermal bath pool at a spa hotel in Budapest, Kati discreetly eyed the rugged blond man lounging in the next pool.
He had glanced in her direction several times over the past two days.
She was mourning the death of her father the month before, and was in no shape to be looking at the opposite sex. But the man’s shaggy, blond hair had caught her eye that first evening in the pools; it had wandered down over his shoulders and powerful chest as well. Béla Dunai would have forgiven her, she knew.
At that moment, the man lifted his head and looked directly at her. Immediately, she pretended to be studying the clock on the wall behind him. She hoped he was too far away to notice the blush that had sprung onto her face. She wanted to pass for a sophisticated European woman while in Hungary. But here she was, blushing like a schoolgirl at a strange man, having forgotten completely about her father’s passing for a brief moment.
The next evening at the baths, Kati made a point of keeping a cool expression on her face as she surveyed the room.
The blond man was there again. Careful not to glance in his direction, she obliquely noted he was near a group of men playing chess in the water. He sat at the side of the pool, idly swinging his legs while watching their game. Her eyes flicked over his legs; oak tree trunks came to mind.
Pretending not to have seen him, she stared dreamily in the other direction. Did she sense the blond man’s eyes upon her? Arching her neck, she jutted her chin out, hoping it made her look more like her favorite movie actress, Audrey Hepburn.
She wanted to know if he was watching her. Again pretending to look at the clock on the wall behind him, she arched her eyebrows as if realizing she had an important appointment. She didn’t.
The man looked directly at her.
Kati completely lost her nerve. Summoning the remains of her composure, she rose slowly from the pool and disappeared into the women’s locker room. How could she maintain a dignified mourning posture when she was being distracted by a blond bear of a man?
Upstairs in her room, she felt restless. Her body warmed by the thermal baths, she went out on her balcony where the cold night air pinched her. Something else did too. Her father’s spirit nudged her at the railing.
Who are you kidding, little daughter? You may be mourning my loss, but there’s someone with eyes on you now who wants to get to know you. Let him.
Dad, I’m here to wrap up your affairs. Not meet a man. It’s completely inappropriate.
Let life happen to you, Katika. Don’t run from it. Once, long ago, I couldn’t help noticing your mother. Thanks to her noticing me back, here you are.
Kati fled inside and got into bed. That night, she dreamt about a golden bear stalking her in the woods. She’d run away from the bear—slowly. Then, she let him catch her. Instead of eating her, he’d kissed her, thoroughly. It was a long dream. When she woke up the next morning, she felt refreshed, with a plan.
On the following evening, Kati eased herself into the middle of the three large pools in the bath hall and closed her eyes. Instantly, her dream of the night before returned. When she opened her eyes, she looked in the direction of the clock. Directly under it the blond stranger caught her gaze.
She gasped. Then she tossed back her hair.
Out of the corner of her eye, she watched as he climbed out of the water and shook himself off like an enormous golden retriever. She turned her head away, unable to keep from smiling at the image.
Next thing she knew, he was at the side of the pool next to her. He crouched, resting muscular arms on well-formed, golden-haired knees.