by Tina Griffith
My husband of 25 years passed away in 2003, and I was lost and sad. I began a journal as a way to cope with the emotional and physical pain that coursed through me, and while that helped, I was never rid of the sting of losing him.
A friend of mine read my scribbles, and decided to get my story published. At that point, I didn’t even know there was a story, let alone sell. Three years later, my married friends pushed me onto the dating sites. I wasn’t serious about finding someone. But as I went through the process, I documented everything, and again, my friend loved the story and had it published. She continued to do this with all of my stories, until she moved to a different province in Canada. After that I was alone and fell into a state of writer’s block.
I met Alberto in 2010. He turned out to be the beacon of light that I needed. We were married in 2011, and he is my best friend and my inspiration to carry on.
Before we met, I had written six romance novels and twenty-seven children’s books. Since he and I have been together, I’ve written six more romance novels and two more children’s books. I continue to write my novels under my pen name, Tina Griffith.
But I now use my married name, Tina Nykulak Ruiz, for my children’s books. That way, all of my novels will be featured on the same page in Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other well-known venues like this.
Alberto recognized that while romance was the main theme in all of my novels, there were also elements of murder, mystery, and intrigue. When I was about to start writing a new book in January of 2018, he asked me to forgo everything but the romance. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but I set out to try.
I thrive on the excitement when the police come into the story, and I dwell on how the victims get killed. This is not something my husband is fond of.
A friend of mine posted a song on FB (the Caruso Song), and I couldn’t stop watching it. The vibe, the elegance, the beauty, and the romantic tones of the music, sent my heart reeling. I then looked up what the song was about, and watched it again by other artists. After that, I was hooked. Romance was going to be the only theme in my new story, and I vowed to make it heartbreaking, soulful, and delightfully spicy.
The Elusive Mr. Velucci turned out to be painfully raw with emotion, mesmerizing to the sentimental part of your soul, and captivating enough to make you lose track of time. I still cry when I read the passage where Sadie and Enrico are on the dock and they have to say good-bye to each other. I know how the story goes because I wrote it, but I have tears in my eyes and goose bumps on my arms when I read that part. And when I turn to the last page of the book, I can already feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck, because I am anticipating how the story will end. To me, it’s my best book ever!
My husband is very proud that I wrote a book on nothing but romance, and he encourages me to write more books like that. However, his wish is not always my reality. I thrive on the excitement of danger, mystery, and getting the police involved, and I dwell on how the victims are killed, which is not something my husband is fond of. All those elements are present in the story I am currently writing.
The Elusive Mr. Velucci is dedicated to my husband, Alberto Ruiz – the man who has renewed my faith in love, encouragement, and support on every level. He is the reason I am smile now, for he is the main character in my last chapter of life.
This excerpt is after their one night of passion, and before Enrico must board the ship back to Italy. I hope you enjoy it.
“I didn’t realize how much you would mean to me when we first met”, he whispered with total sincerity. His eyes had filled up and he could hardly see, and with everything in his soul, he very much wanted to stay right where he was. He was miserable because he knew he couldn’t, so he promised to come back as soon as possible.
“Enrico”, she whimpered, as she looked lovingly into his eyes. Her voice had a gentle softness to it, with undertones of abandonment. She wanted to say a thousand more words, but they got stuck in her throat.
“I know”, he revealed, in a voice that was fragile and shaking. It was quite evident to everyone around them, that he wasn’t prepared to say good-bye to the beautiful girl standing in front of him. He brought his forehead forward until it was touching hers, and they cried with immense fear that they would never see each other again.
An announcement came over the P.A., which stated that all passengers must get checked in. It was in that moment when Enrico knew in his heart, that no miracle was coming and that he would have to leave. He pulled his head back from hers and looked deep into Sadie’s unhappy eyes. He had not expected to fall in love, and now he could feel his own heart breaking.
Enrico placed both of his hands against the sides of her face, and slowly closed his eyes. With all the love he had inside of him, he kissed her forehead, her cheeks, her nose, and then her mouth. It baffled him that this woman had provided him with the absolute need to love another living soul, for he would not have guessed that to be possible. He wanted to hold her, take care of her, know her whereabouts, and love her for the rest of his life, but he could not; he had waited too long to change the course of his immediate future.
Enrico was becoming frustrated that he had taken eight months to get to know her, but he had only had six hours to really love her. He pulled her body closer to his, and then held on tight. ‘If only I had known or acted sooner…’ he whispered.
Enrico needed to go, so he ended their embrace as hurriedly as it had begun.
A flash of wild grief suddenly ripped through her soul, as Sadie realized the true reality of what was happening. “Enrico!” she cried from every pore in her body. Her eyes were begging him to stay, while her heart was breaking into a million pieces. The whole thing suddenly felt very real, and severe panic began to fill every fiber of her being.
Enrico examined her face and he knew what she wanted. “I’ll be back”, he assured her, in a voice that was both soft and trying to stay strong. He picked up his suitcase with one hand, and he placed something in her hand with the other.
Without looking to see what it was, she swaddled the object safely in the palm of her hand, while keeping her eyes locked with his.
Enrico twisted his upper body to face his family and shouted, “Good-bye everyone!” He turned around to take one more look into the face of his beloved Sadie, and then he began to walk away.
“No!” she shouted loudly. The simple word dissolved into the air like a crispy leaf in the fall.
Enrico hadn’t gotten very far, and now it was him who was falling apart. He took one more look in her direction, put his hand to his mouth, and blew her a kiss. “Bye for now!” he said quietly. As he faced forward again, he began to cry. Not full-out crying like a small child who had gotten hurt on the playground, but a grown man’s frustration and enormous displeasure of things that he couldn’t fix or change.
Nothing in her mind or body was able to let him go, and now Sadie felt like she couldn’t breathe. Her muscles were paralyzed and she was experiencing numbness all over. Her eyebrows were raised, her eyes were wide open, and a look of extreme anxiety shot across her face.
While Enrico was moving his feet, he was trying to hide his appearance from the other travelers. He was utterly depressed and having a hard time forcing his emotions to stay down. He tried to make it look like he was holding back a sneeze rather than a flood of tears, but when one or two drops of salty water leaked out from their moist environment, Enrico wiped them off of his face with the sleeve of his right arm and kept going.
Sadie had been watching the man she loves walk away, and with an incredible amount of courage, she boldly took a few steps towards him. “En-ri-co!” She shouted his name as she extended her left hand far in front of her body, but he didn’t turn around. With sheer desperation gushing from the very core of her soul, she wanted to run after him, to hold him one last time, but she knew she couldn’t; their time was up.
Enrico heard her calling him, but he couldn’t bear to turn around again; he knew that if he saw her, he would run back into her arms and he would never let go. Instead, he made himself a promise to return to New York as soon as he could.
Sadie stood frozen in her tracks, while anxiety guided her every thought. She watched Enrico, as he continued to walk in a hurried pace, and she wanted him to come back. “Enrico”, she sighed, with little air passing through her trembling lips. “I love you.” Her head was bent in sorrow while the world was crashing down around her.
After Enrico boarded the large vessel, he made sure to stand on the very end of the large deck. He was facing her, but they were so far apart. His hand leaped high into the air and swayed back and forth, as he watched her wave back to him. He could tell that she was beckoning him to come back, and it was killing him that he couldn’t.
Sadie’s heart leaped in her chest when she saw him. “Enrico!” she called loudly. She saw him waving, and she waved back with as much energy as she could muster. She couldn’t take her eyes off of the handsome man, who only hours ago, had made passionate love to her. “I’m here!” she cried. Her voice had cracked and was full of raw emotion.
Enrico’s face was wearing the biggest smile of his life, and he waved with all of his might. “Sadie!” he called, as if she could hear him.
“Enrico!” she shouted. She knew in that instance that he was the man who she would love for the rest of her life.
The ship blew its horn a few times, and then it slowly pulled away from the dock.
“No!” she screamed, as her body went into an even bigger panic mode. Tears were trickling down her moist and flushed cheeks, as her soul was being smashed into a thousand different pieces. “Please don’t leave!” she pleaded at the top of her lungs. She was yelling with as much force as she had in her body, and was stunned that no-one was looking in her direction. ‘Why were they not helping me get him back?’ she wondered wildly.
“Sadie!” Enrico called, but the sound of his words were not as clear anymore. “I love you!” he added happily. “Can you hear me?”
With all the noise that was around her, Sadie’s ears didn’t get to receive his tender words. “How will I go on without you?” she cried, while choking on her own tears. Her heart was in her throat, her will to live had been taken away, and now there was a horrible, empty ache in her soul.
“Enrico!” Sadie shouted at full volume. She continued to step closer and closer to the edge of the platform, as the ship appeared to go further and further away from the shore. “No-o-o-o-o!” she screamed, as if that would somehow stop what was happening.
With each moment that passed, their hearts were growing heavier with the sadness that was now weighing them down. Minute-by-minute, their emotional pain was getting worse, and almost an hour later, the ship was nothing more than a mere dot on the large body of water.
Sadie had fallen to her knees before the ship had totally disappeared, and it was then when she discovered what Enrico had placed in her closed fist - a beautiful silver locket. On the left side of the elaborately engraved heart, was a picture of Enrico. On the right, was a picture of her.
After her husband of 25 years passed away, she wrote romance novels to keep the love inside her heart. Tina now has eleven romance novels on Amazon, and while all of them have undertones of a love story, they are different genres; murder, mystery, whimsical, witches, ghosts, suspense, adventure, and her sister's scary biography.
Tina has worked in television and radio as well as being a professional clown at the Children's Hospital. She lives in Calgary with her second husband who encourages her to write her passion be it high-quality children's books or intriguing romance.
Stay connected with Tina (Griffith) Ruiz on her Facebook group Tina Speaks Out.