Anna Premoli shares an extract from her latest novel, What’s Love Got To Do With It?
“Well, it certainly looks like you do,” I say, smiling angelically. “Shall we reintroduce ourselves to each other then? I’m Kayla David, a journalist from New York.”
“Greyson Moir, mayor of Heber Springs,” he replies, “at your service.” He says it in an apparently serious tone, but his voice is hiding something that I can’t quite put my finger on. Despite the act, if he’s just a normal run-of-the-mill guy then I’m a model for Victoria’s Secret.
“I’m very happy to have discovered your secret identity, Clark Kent, but there was no need to waste your time with me today…”
He leans back in his chair, laces his fingers behind his head and pretends to relax. “It’s not a problem. In fact, it’s actually my job. So, what did you want to know?”
Well, since I’m here and I can’t escape him… “I asked to see any permits that the town has given for the use of the subsoil over the last few years,” I say, trying to sound casual. I think that if I try not to look too agitated he won’t have any reason to get suspicious.
Greyson, though, tenses up immediately. “Why did you say you came to stay here again?” he asks.
“Because I write a lovely little column that covers a lot of things: everyday life, nightlife, bars, clubs, trends… Everything that I think is interesting,” I say, trying to explain without going into detail and pretending that I’m more stupid than I actually am.
He studies me carefully without blinking. “I’ve been wondering since Saturday and I haven’t managed to come up with a credible answer,” he murmurs.
“What have you been wondering about?”
“About why the hell you came here,” he says, then waits to see how I react. Well, I’m sorry for him, but he will have to wait a long time for that.
“I told you, for my column. At the moment I’m talking about a city girl who moves to the country and tries to adapt to life there. I’m writing about how different everything is here.”
“And that’s why you’re asking me to let you see drilling permits?” he asks.
“I’m just curious,” I reply with an innocent smile.
He raises an eyebrow dubiously. “Sure you are,” he comments, looking visibly unconvinced. “And are you curious about any specific type of permit in particular?”
I pretend to straighten out my jeans for a moment to give myself time to think. “I’m not sure… maybe gas extraction?” I say, trying to look surprised by my own question.
He observes me through half closed eyes. Wow, Kayla, this investigative journalism of yours is going like a bomb… Yeah, a bomb that’s about to explode in your hands.
“I guess I must have misjudged you, too. I thought that you were obsessed with cocktails and shoes when in fact you’re a passionate environmentalist,” he says, with an ironic smile on his face.
This man is a little too perceptive for my liking…
“Why do you say that?”
“I hope you don’t think you’re the first journalist who’s come in here asking the same questions, do you?”
“I didn’t see a queue outside your door.”
“There’s no queue, but I’m not stupid either. I know that everybody is talking about these new methods of gas extraction lately.”
“Well, most of the news is about your neighbours in Fayetteville. The fracking industry pays a lot of money and I’m just curious to know what the local authority in Heber Springs thinks about it all.”
He sighs deeply. “My opinion of my local authority is none of your business,” he replies in a much harsher tone than usual. I don’t know what his previous job was, back when he lived in a city, but I’m increasingly certain he was in a powerful position.
“Of course it’s my business, since I’m going to be part of this community for a few months,” I reply calmly.
“Are you still planning to stay?” he asks.
“I certainly am. This town is practically paradise, so I don’t see why I shouldn’t.”
Greyson snorts without commenting.
“So, what do I have to do to see the permits that the municipality has given out?” I insist.
“My assistant will give you a form. Once you’ve filled it in, you’ll have to wait. The municipality will answer your enquiry within sixty days,” he replies.
“Wow, you must be really busy around here if it takes you two months to show me a list of permits…” I say sarcastically.
“Believe it or not, we actually are quite busy. We manage a huge municipality and we have a small staff who have to take care of everything. We do accept volunteers, though, so you can come and help out if you have nothing to do in your spare time.”
I must be out of my mind, but seeing Greyson in control is having a strange effect on me. I always thought he was sexy, but now he’s even more so. Of course, I’d prefer it if he’d stop being such a pain in the ass and actually started helping me…
“I’ll think about it,” I lie.
“I’m sure you will,” he smiles. “So, if that’s all…” He starts to get to his feet.
“It is, for now,” I specify. What can I say? I love having the last word.
Greyson barely manages to suppress a laugh and offers me his hand. I stand up and shake it, trying very hard not to notice the pleasant sensation that the gesture causes to spread throughout my body. I must start doing some sport so I can let off some tension before I do something very stupid, like jumping on the mayor of Heber Springs. I’m sure he wouldn’t hesitate to have me arrested.
Kayla David is a high-flying journalist in New York City, spending all her time drinking martinis and writing about fashion trends. She is perfectly happy with her life, and she certainly has no time for falling in love.
That is, until, her boss decides to send her on a secret mission back to her hometown of Arkansas: she is tasked with exposing the truth about the fracking industry and to use her reputation as a lifestyle columnist as a disguise. She is horrified at the thought of returning to this boring country town, but up for the challenge.
Yet, she didn’t plan on having to deal with Grayson Moir, the sexy but aloof mayor of Heber Spring. As Kayla settles into life there she soon realises that it might be a bit more difficult than she thought to keep her real mission a secret. And what’s more, she finds it increasingly difficult to keep her heart under control too…
Anna Premoli was born in Croatia but moved to Milan as a young child and has lived there since. She has worked in the Asset Management industry for JPMorgan and is now employed in Private Banking for an Italian bank, where she manages HNW positions. She started writing romantic comedies to fight financial markets stress after the Lehman crack, when she was expecting her son, now six. Writing was supposed to be only a hobby, but her husband self-published her first novel as a birthday present four years ago, and it was a great success in Italy.