Through the window in the door, he noticed the soft glow of the small light over the big farmhouse sink—his mother had always left on a light for his father when he’d worked late in the fields. As Enzo grasped the brass doorknob of the kitchen door, he gave himself a mental jerk. He tried not to think about his parents. Every time he did, his mood went south. That wouldn’t be fair to Sylvie, who had gone out of her way to make him dinner. At least he thought she had.
He pushed the door open and stepped inside. He moved to the kitchen and flipped on the lights. The kitchen was spiffed up and as he inhaled, he definitely detected some basil and tomato sauce. He had a feeling he was on to something.
As it was a bit chilly outside that evening, he was certain Sylvie wasn’t planning a terrace dinner. Perhaps she’d decided to utilize the dining room in order to use the long table to spread out her paperwork that she wanted to go over with him.
He started in that direction. However, when the doorway to the dining room came into sight, he noticed the door was almost closed while a flicker of soft light shone through the crack. Sylvie had planned a candlelight dinner for him?
As soon as the thought came to him, he dismissed it. He’d ruined any chance of anything romantic between them. Not that he was interested in starting a relationship. In fact, that was the last thing he wanted.
His personal life was a disaster. He might have won full ownership of the Bartolini estate but he’d lost what made it special—his family. In truth, he hadn’t even won control of it. He’d won out of default. His sisters didn’t want the place. They’d rather move far away and start over. Not that he could blame them after the way their lives had imploded upon finding their mother’s journal.
But he wasn’t going to think about that now. Right now he needed to make sure Sylvie hadn’t gotten the wrong idea about tonight’s dinner.
He pushed the door open. There was a single candle lit in the vast room. He squinted into the darkness. “Sylvie?”
The lights flicked on, momentarily blinding him.
“Surprise!” It wasn’t just Sylvie’s voice but a whole host of voices.
When his sight adjusted, he glanced around. Crowded into the dining room were all the workers from the vineyard as well as friends and neighbors. And then his gaze rested on Sylvie.
His jaw muscles tightened. He didn’t want to celebrate his birthday. Not at all.