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A Secret Kiss. Falling for Sakura series, Book 1
Alexia Praks

Category: Romance Books, eBooks & Novels
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This is the first book in the series, commencing the story of Sakura, a Caucasian-Japanese orphan, and her journey to discover herself. It’s also the tale of her torn love for two wealthy, attractive, and distinctly different brothers.
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Excerpt from the book:

Sakura Princeton stroked the strands of her long tresses away from her face. The glossy locks refused to obey her and fell back in place. She muttered under her breath and tossed them back, bunching up the curls and letting them fall to one side of her slender shoulder. Then she turned just so to the right to get into a good position, lifted the camera up to her eyes, and when she thought the lighting was as good as it was going to get, she clicked on the record button. Click! Click! Click! Click!

Just then a gust of wind blew, loosening her hair and fluttering it about. She, however, paid no heed to this as she was too consumed with what she was doing.

It’s perfect! Just what she needed. Countless cherry blossom petals were flying all around her like rain. Click! Click! Click! Click!

It was so beautiful, wildflowers and cherry blossoms in the woods giving out myriads of colors. It’d be perfect for her painting. She took a step back in order to take in the whole picture—cherry blossoms, leaves, trees, and wildflowers in the background. Then click, click, click, click. Once she thought she’d taken enough photos, she lowered the camera and smiled with satisfaction.

You’re going to be my bestseller this week,” she said, tapping her finger on the petal. “And I thank you for that.” Then she imagined the digits increasing in her bank account—and yes, that also meant her plan to go overseas was getting closer to reality too.

She turned to pick up her bag, tossed it over her shoulder, and headed back toward the road as she hummed to herself.

Woof! Woof! Woof!

Sakura felt something soft grazing against her legs. She glanced down and saw a cute dog with fluffy white fur and large black eyes watching her, begging for her attention. The West Highland white terrier barked her a happy greeting.

Where have you been, Toby?” she greeted back. “I told you not to go too far. You might get lost. What if I couldn’t find you? What would you do then? You’d become an orphan.”

Sakura knew exactly what it was like to be an orphan. It was a most terrible feeling to have no one to share your love, your fear, your happiness, or your experiences. It was a lonely existence, and no one deserved that.

You wouldn’t want that now, would you?” she queried Toby as she bent down to pick him up. The dog stuck out his tongue and licked her cheek. She couldn’t help herself and giggled.

The fact was Sakura really loved Toby since it was she who had found him half-buried in the snow in the depths of the woods three winters ago. The pup was lost and very sick, having been abandoned by his owner who had left St. Joseph Island and never returned. If it hadn’t been for her, Toby could’ve died from starvation and hypothermia.

The pup, later named Toby by Sakura herself, had known it had been Sakura who saved him and had taken a liking to her immediately, doting on her and following her wherever she went.

Don’t!” She told him off. The dog looked somewhat disappointed as he tried to lick her again. “It’s your fault for not listening to me, Toby.” She returned him to the ground. “Now then, I think it’s time to head back. I do have many more things to do before dinner.” She paused, looking up at the beautiful spring sky; her eyes narrowed against the bright sunlight. “And then there’s Saturday.” She frowned, and her heart skipped a beat.

Saturday would come all too soon, the day when everyone would be arriving for the wedding and the holiday. There’d be so many people Sakura didn’t know. But of course that didn’t matter. What really mattered—and what really worried her—was the fact that her adopted brothers—all seven of them—would be coming as well since it was their cousin Mary’s wedding.

Sakura cocked her head to one side as she thought about the brothers. There were the very responsible, father-like figure Nicolas; the very popular, mischievous triplets Tristan, Logan, and Sebastian; the disobedient, bad-boy Hayden; the smart, arrogant Darcy, who disliked her most since those unfortunate incidents thirteen years ago; and lastly nice, sincere Conrad.

Of course she couldn’t really forget about Tara, Alaina, and their big-city friends. They’d no doubt only be too happy to be back and make Sakura’s life as miserable as possible. But Sakura too had grown up into a fine woman and strong-willed. So Daddy James told her many times. Hence, come hell or high water, Sakura wasn’t going to put up with their nastiness this time. After all, she had her own life and her own plans for the future to worry about and therefore had no time for their bull.

As she breathed in the fresh spring air and strolled along the woodland, a thought suddenly struck her. She nibbled her lower lip, her eyes gazing off into the far distance to the sea beyond.

Would they still remember her, though?

She scoffed at the thought immediately. Of course not! If they remembered anything about her at all, it was probably the pranks they had played on her and the many scoldings they had received from Daddy James and Mom Brenda because of her. Not that she’d ever been the one who told on them. It had always been pretty Tara, who was also adopted by the Princetons, and Alaina who had been the masterminds behind everything. Then they’d all gone off to boarding school—the boys to St. Michael’s Boarding School for Boys, one of the most prestigious schools in America, and Tara and Alaina to Princess Margaret’s Boarding School for Girls, also one of the most prestigious schools in America.

Not very long after, Sakura too had gone off to St. Helensburgh Boarding School for Girls where she met her friends Mary Collins, who also turned out to be the boys’ cousin from their mother’s side, and Katherine Hodge, a girl from a good family who also lived on St. Joseph Island. She, Mary, and Katherine had many lovely times together, helping each other with schoolwork and enjoying each other’s company, both in and out of school.

Back then, during the holidays, Sakura would stay with the Collinses at their farm in California, enjoying her times there with Mary, Katherine, and Mary’s brother, Richard. Then every so often Daddy James and Mom Brenda would come and stay with them for a couple of days along with Dale and Molly, her adopted grandparents from Daddy James’s side of the family. During those times, Sakura had never felt more warm, happy, and complete to have such a wonderful circle of family and friends. Hence she never really saw the boys—nor Alaina and Tara for that matter—ever since she left thirteen years ago. By the time she completed her science degree at UCLA and had returned to St. Joseph Island to work in the local hospital, they all had left home completely to live wherever their hearts had taken them. Of course, she had no idea where they were living now, and to be frankly honest, neither did she care.

So what do you think they’re like now?” she asked Toby, who was busy sticking his tongue out and sniffing the air with interest. Sakura cocked her head to one side, wondering.

Nicolas would be twenty-eight by now,” she murmured to herself, picturing the young Nicolas when she last saw him when he was fifteen years old. “The triplets?” She cocked her head to the other side, watching Toby wagging his tail as he was sniffing something of interest to him in the bush not too far away. “They’d be what? Twenty-six?” The picture of the three when they were thirteen flashed in her mind. “What about Hayden and the twins?” Yes, Hayden would be twenty-four by now, and the twins, Alaina and Darcy, would be twenty-two.

The name Darcy caused her heart to skip a beat, and that odd, dull pain was still there, lingering within her being, reminding her of what had happened that summer thirteen years ago.

Then there was Conrad, the baby of the house. “Yes,” she murmured to herself, gently touching the overgrown tall grasses, “he’d be twenty by now.”