A Viennese Christmas (A Taste of Vienna Story)
Sign language interpreter, Amanda Kranz, wants to find her soul mate but fears her chance has past due to the death of her childhood sweetheart. Finding sexy historian Henry Jager during an outing in her new home of Vienna, Austria, may have been a stroke of luck. When his ex-fiancée shows up just as their relationship starts to sizzle, Amanda must decide if standing up for what she really wants will give her lifetime happiness. Or will she be destined to spend her life alone?
Her disappointment must have been plain on her face as she found herself suddenly gazing into the greenest eyes in a very handsome male face. A question in German followed as she tried to ascertain just what he said.
“I’m sorry,” she stated, her confusion obvious. “I’ve only picked up a word or two since I’ve been here. Do you speak English?”
“You’re American?” he questioned without the accent most Austrians possessed.
“Don’t make it sound like such a curse. There are a lot of us, you know.” Her indignation evident in her tone.
His rich laughter filled the space, warming her to her bones in ways she hadn’t expected. “Sorry. I guess one does pick up the attitudes of where they live.”
She looked at him puzzled. “That’s that supposed to mean?”
“Henry Jager, American, at your service ma’am.” His sweeping bow brought a smile to her lips.
“Amanda Kranz and I hardly think I qualify as a ma’am.” She stuck her hand toward him. His firm grasp sent an electric sensation as she felt the spark deep within her. She swore he felt it too as his eyes darkened.
“Do you prefer Amanda or Mandi? I know there’s not much of a choice with Henry.” His serious gaze spot of his interest.
Laughter bubbled up in her, the first such emotion in weeks. “Henry is a fine, strong name. And it doesn’t matter much with mine.” His hot look made her want to shiver in anticipation of what she could only speculate.
“Really? I would have thought your business associates would call you Amanda. Now your intimate contacts I expect call you Mandi.”
She gazed at him. Intimate contacts, now there was a misnomer. It had been years since she’d had any intimate contacts of the male persuasion. “Sounds good to me.”
“You gave in too easy.” He reluctantly let go of her hand as his look took on a more serious aspect. “Are you meeting someone?”
She shook her head. “No one to meet.”
“Good.” He grabbed her hand again, placing it in the crook of his arm. “Have you ever been to one of these before?” Henry expertly meandered around people, baby carriages and more as he led her to the next booth.
“Not really. I saw them last year but being so new to the city, I couldn’t bring myself to go to one alone.” She gazed at the Rathaus beyond them, remembering how intimidated she’d been by building even though it had a Christmas tree in front.
His eyes narrowed. “Sounds like you’re still a relative newcomer.”
“I suppose so. I got here in November of last year.”
“Ah – your impression?” His brows lifted when he drew back as if to study her face.
“Very commercialized. I expected something more – ” she struggled to find the right word. “– more homey, more authentic – more Austrian.”
Henry gazed around a moment before looking back at her. “I see your point. This is probably the one Christkindlemarkt that’s got the least to offer in specialized, authentic goods in my opinion except it does have a certain ambiance. And of course, there’s the skating rink as well as the park decorations.”
Her brow arched in amazement. She really hadn’t expected anyone to agree with her. All the women she knew gushed over every one of them. “You agree with me?”
His naughty smile was breathtaking. “Most definitely. This is the one where most of the tourists come. While there are some very Austrian things here hidden amongst the drivel, most are not unique or special in any way.”
“My thoughts exactly. Where exactly does one find more traditional items?” Astonishment spread through her. She had not once heard anyone say a negative comment about Vienna. All her colleagues gushed over the city but as far as she was concerned, it was just another place to live.
They stopped in front of a food booth, the aroma tantalizing. “Would you like something hot to drink?”
The brisk breeze nipped at her cheeks and she felt the cold through her coat. She definitely could use something to warm her up. “Sure.”