I only talked with him for a few moments. I was tired of the same rhetoric, the same circles of conversation that never led anywhere. My father loved me, I knew he did, but our relationship had always been a consistent cycle of love and irritation. One minute I would be his favorite person on the planet and the next, he acted as if he couldn’t wait to get away from me. The second I did or said something that he didn’t agree with, that was it, he was done talking.
Mom wasn’t that different, she was much the same as my Dad, just in a different way. I quickly learned while living with her that, rather than becoming upset if she disagreed with me, she would simply act as if I hadn’t said anything at all. Where my father would fight with me, she would fake ignorance.
As I laid in my bed thinking about the strange relationships I had with both of my parents, the phone rang again. I glanced over at the sleek black handset, wondering if I should even bother answering. I knew it would be my father again. I took a deep breath, exhaled, and gave in to the loud ringing.
“What now?” I answered, sure that it was my father calling again to tell me how bad I screwed up. Surely, one time wouldn’t be enough for him.
“Ok then, Beautiful. I’ll just call you later!”
It was Graysen.
My frown quickly changed to a smile. I loved it when he called me that. Beautiful.
“Wait!” I replied. “I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else.”
“Who? Your other boyfriend?”
Wait, had he just said boyfriend?
I thought for a few moments, silent on my end of the phone.
“You there?” he asked.
I carefully worded my response.
“Well, yeah I’m here. I mean, I would have to have one boyfriend to be able to have a second one, right?”
I leaned forward on my bed, resting my chin upon my hand as the seconds of silence slowly passed. I wondered why he hadn’t answered me yet? My ears filled with the deafening silence on the other end of the line. I bit my lip, impatiently awaiting his response. After a few more moments I was ready to ask if he was still there, perhaps we had lost connection or he had just hung up because I had put him on the spot with an uncomfortable question. But then, Graysen said something so simple and so silly that I couldn’t have possibly imagined at that point in time how much those few words would change my life. It was a point where everything was about to change for me. In hindsight, I wish I would have realized just how seriously that change would impact my life.
“Well, who am I, your cousin?”
A huge smile spread across my face. I held my hand against my mouth as the joy inside bubbled out of me. Despite all of my flaws and all of my past mistakes, this boy on the other end of the phone line wanted me. He wanted to be with me. He liked the new Avery Brooks, just as much as my past friends in Chicago liked the old Avery Brooks. He liked me for who I was becoming. Not a girl who went out all the time, not a girl who liked party and get high every chance she got. But a girl who would be dependable for him, a girl that he could count on to remain true and loyal. I wanted to be that girl, I could be that girl. Because as long as I was that girl then Graysen Bennett was my boyfriend.
“Hello?” he asked, obviously now worried that I was the one who wasn’t there.
I quickly tried to stifle the gitty girl that was coming out and replied.
“Ok?” he asked.
“Yeah, ok.” I smiled and I felt sure he could feel the happiness I exuded coming through the phone.
“Well, good. Now that we have that little detail taken care of, who did you think it was when I called?”
“Oh, that. Just my Dad. We had been talking earlier and arguing. I thought you were him calling me back again.”
“Oh.” He answered. “Well, that couldn’t be me.”
“Why is that?” I asked.
“Because I could never argue with you?”
“Because you’re too perfect.” Perfect. He thought I was perfect. I was thankful that he couldn’t see me blushing.
“Yeah, you’re pretty. Like, really pretty. You’re fun and so smart. You’re different than the other girls around here. You act how a girl should act.”
“What do you mean how a girl should act?”
“I don’t know. I guess I mean, you don’t go showing off for attention. You’re just you and you don’t care what anyone thinks. Like at Sam’s party the other night, you didn’t let Sam intimidate you. You stuck to your guns and didn’t get all messed up like the other girls. I like that. I like a good girl.”
A good girl? I realized I had been right. A good girl is exactly what Graysen wanted. I thought for a few moments about telling him of my life in Chicago, I really did. I thought about telling him that I wasn’t some innocent princess, that I had already done my fair share of bad deeds, skipping school, drinking, and pot smoking. But why would that matter? He liked what he saw now, and it wasn’t fake. I wanted to be good. I wanted to be out of the whole party scene and how lucky was I that I met a gorgeous guy that liked a girl like that? I wanted Graysen. I wasn’t going to say a word to him that might change what he thought of me, the new me. The only question that lingered was why I had changed so rapidly. At that moment in time, I couldn’t even understand myself what it was that had made me want to change, so how could I explain it to him? Character Depiction
Meet 17 year old Avery Brooks. New to the small town of Elkins, West Virginia and confident that her last 2 years of high school will fly by without a hitch. Fighting past troubles from her hometown of Chicago, Avery is looking for smooth sailing from here on out. Everything seems to be going exactly as planned until Graysen Bennett, the only boy who has caught her eye, suddenly notices her. Captivated by his attention, soon Avery’s plans begin to fall apart. But what else does she really need than to be loved?
To Be Loved is scheduled for release in November 2013!
Today’s Sunday Sneak Peek comes from Sydney Logan’s upcoming release, Mountain Charm.
She was just running toward the goal for a layup when she heard a voice. “You look sexy in those shorts.” Angelina gasped, and the ball flew upward, hitting the bottom of the rim. So much for distractions.“You scared the crap out of me, and you made me miss my shot.” Dylan smiled and grabbed the rebound before passing the ball back to her.
“You play?” he asked.
“Play is a little strong. I shoot, and sometimes, if I’m lucky, it goes in the hoop.”
Angelina tossed the ball toward the net, and this time, her aim was perfect.
He nodded approvingly. “Nice shot. I played a little in high school.”
“Were you any good?”
“I was a good bench warmer. Does that count?”
She grinned and tossed him the ball. “In that case, I suppose you’re allowed to play with me.”
“That’s my dream come true, you realize.”
Her heart fluttered. Fluttered.
“Just shoot the ball, Casanova.”
Dylan haphazardly threw the ball, and she laughed when it completely missed the rim.
“Wow, you are terrible.”
Dylan glared at her and tossed the ball in her direction. Bouncing it twice, Angelina lobbed it into the air, banking it off the backboard and through the hoop. She caught the rebound and passed it back. Dylan moved to the foul line and took another shot. This time, he missed the entire goal.
“This is embarrassing,” he muttered, rubbing the back of his neck. “Maybe I just need some motivation.”
Dylan hoisted another awkward shot into the air. “Each time I score, you have to tell me something about yourself that nobody knows. Something I can’t find in my research.”
Angelina smirked. “Since you’ve yet to hit one basket, I think my secrets are pretty safe.”
“Maybe,” he said, shrugging. “And if you make your shot, I’ll tell you something nobody knows about me.”
“If, by some miracle, you happen to make a bucket or two, will my secrets be in your article?”
“No, Angelina. These secrets are just for me.”
The way he said her name made her spine tingle, but she shook it off. She had a basketball game to win.
Sydney Logan is an Amazon bestselling author and holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education. With the 2012 release of her first novel, Lessons Learned, she made the transition from bookworm to author. Sydney has a very unhealthy obsession with music, and her iPod is filled with everything from Johnny Cash to Eminem. She is also the author of two short stories: “Mistletoe Magic,” available exclusively on Amazon Kindle, and “Stupid Cupid,” which is featured in the Romantic Interludes compilation. When she isn’t reading or writing, she enjoys playing piano and relaxing on her front porch at her home in East Tennessee with her wonderful husband and their very spoiled cat.
A special sneak peek into a portion of the new edition of Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever . . .
“Fifty Shades meets Keisha from the block.”
Keisha Beale and her roommate Jada Jameson have half the money they need to start their dream business. A hookup from Jada’s well-connected father gets them a meeting with the elusive venture capitalist Tristan White. The only time slot he has available is the close of business on a Friday afternoon when Jada has a nonrefundable ticket for a sorority week in Sin City.
Keisha goes to the meeting alone and almost flubs their chance at getting the much-needed start-up capital they require. During this one chance meeting venture capitalist Tristan White discovers he wants a little coffee in his cream. Thus begins his pursuit of Keisha Beale, the only woman who can quench his raging case of Jungle Fever!
Saturday morning after breakfast, we have the first of many fencing lessons in Tristan’s gym. Once again, he’s well-prepared. Tristan’s gone overboard in my opinion and bought me three sets of fencing whites. I dress in my knickers, plastron, chest protector, jacket, socks, trainers, and glove and then carry my mask and foil out of the dressing room with me. I meet Tristan out on the floor. He’s already dressed and practicing. He stops when I enter the room, and his eyes rake over me with the same appreciation mine are showing him.
Damn! He’s fine in that getup, especially the tight breeches! my Fairy Hoochie Mama says. Triple-G even lets loose the type of whistle that men usually use on women when they’re making catcalls. I execute an extended mental eye roll at them.
“Seeing you dressed out gives me ideas, Ms. Beale,” Tristan says, his eyes bright.
“What if I don’t like fencing? Then these cute little outfits you bought will go to waste.”
“They’re not just cute little outfits, and believe me, once you get into it you’ll love it.”
“Says the man who’s probably been doing this since he could walk.”
He looks thoughtful. “Our mother did begin to teach us when we were five.”
Every so often, I learn something new about Tristan that underscores the differences in our upbringings. This is one of those moments. When I was that age, my mama was teaching me nursery rhymes, reading, and singing. However, knowing that his mother fenced makes me feel like I can do this.
“Then, in homage to the late Mrs. White, I’ll give it a good old college try.”
“Oh you’ll give it more than that.”
“How can you be so certain?”
“Physical fitness is part of your contract, and it will go a long way in helping you endure the rigors of our role-play weekends. I can tell from your muscle tone you haven’t been sedentary, and your lines suggest you could be really good at this. What sports did you enjoy in school?”
“I did track and field in high school. And even though my music major didn’t allow me to continue in college, I used DePaul’s track and gym whenever I could.”
“I’m impressed and happy to be the beneficiary of your diligence.”
“You have a weird way of giving compliments.”
“You’ll undoubtedly find many things weird about me, but I prefer the term eccentric.”
“Eccentric is more pleasing to the ear.”
Tristan brings me a shiny silver jacket that matches my mask perfectly. “Here, put this on.”
“What’d you do; rob Michael Jackson’s wardrobe?”
He tries to resist smiling but fails. “Funny. The answer is no. It’s an electric lamé or over-jacket. When our body cords are attached to it and plugged into the reel on either end of the fencing strip, it will register electronic scoring as targets on our bodies are hit.”
“So, this is kinda like what you like to do with the whips, crops, and floggers in the grotto?”
He pauses for a second. “Now you mention it. Yes.” His eyes shine with an elation that wasn’t there before, and he finishes getting us both outfitted with the equipment and in position. “The first thing you do is salute your opponent as a sign of respect.” He closes his mask. “Mask down, Ms. Beale.”
I feel like he’s ordering me around in a scene. He moves into a posture and stands still. “This is the en garde position. Front foot facing forward, and then your back foot at a ninety degree angle with your front foot, your feet are shoulder width apart and your knees are bent. Like so.”
I follow his instructions and manage to mirror his stance exactly after a few seconds.
I grin. How ridiculous is it that I crave his approval so much?
He points at the line next to him on the strip. “Don’t cross that line until you’ve been signaled to engage after completing the en garde stance.”
He approaches me in a sexy swagger made more pronounced by his fencing shoes, a literal rolling from his heels to the balls of his feet.
“This is a classic lunge.” He executes one. “It is how you attack your opponent.”
I mimic his movement until he deems I’ve done it right.
“You always want to block your target areas from your opponent during a lunge.” Tristan uses the foil to point to the areas he describes. “The arms, chest and head are targets, and there are three parries designed to block these targets.” He holds the foil horizontally at his shoulder. “This is the three parry to block your flank.” He moves the foil diagonally across his chest. “This is the four parry to block your chest.” Finally, the foil is horizontal at head level. “And this, is the five parry to block your head. There’s also a two and a one, but those aren’t used quite as often as the ones I’ve just shown you. As we progress and you have need of the others, we’ll learn them.”
“Now, for a bit of footwork,” he says. “I’ll show you advancing and retreating today. I’ll save some of the fancier stuff for later.”
He moves into en garde position. “Okay, here’s the advance. Watch my feet.” He does something that looks like a shuffling hip-hop dance move; he executes it with such lightning speed. “To slow it down for you, the advance is done in three distinct steps. Your feet should remain shoulder width apart at all times. The front foot moves first, beginning by lifting the toes. Straighten the leg at the knee, pushing the heel out in front. Land on the heel, and then bring the back foot up to en garde stance again.”
Tristan shows me again several times until I get it. Then I execute several advances until the movement feels natural to me.
“The final movement I’m going to show you today is the retreat, which is sort of a reverse of the advance. It’s a three-step process also. Back foot first to the ball of the foot. Down with the heel and then on the ball of the foot. Like so.” He retreats, advances, and then retreats until I’m able to follow him without a misstep.
We go through the parries, slowly again and again, all while advancing and retreating until I’m well familiar with them. “Now, these will be executed very quickly, but we’ll go slow until you get the hang of it,” Tristan assures me.
I find myself enjoying figuring out how to block his attacks. They are slow in the beginning so I’m able to think fast and position my foil so he doesn’t hit me every time. As he gathers speed, even though I parry to block, he hits my targets, particularly my chest. So much so, if I weren’t wearing the chest plate, I’m sure my breasts would be stinging right about now.
I see him smile when he gets three successive points against me, and I feel powerless against his lunges because they are executed so flawlessly. I retreat all the way off the strip.
“No fair! You have me at a complete disadvantage.”
Tristan stops, flips his hood back, folds his arms, and crosses a long leg at the ankle. He holds his foil in one hand and beckons me Mortal Kombat style with the other hand.
I push my hood back and shake my head. “You’ve got to be crazy if you think I’m lunging at you again right now.”
“You were doing well for a beginner if we discount the odd moments when you were whacking at me like you were trying to chop vegetables on a cutting board.”
“I’m a girl. We always resort to flailing when fighting, didn’t you know this?”
“I’ve seen you hit someone, remember? You don’t flail when you fight, so don’t do it while fencing. In fact, if you treat fencing the same way you do boxing, you’ll do fine. If you practice the moves enough, they’ll become second nature to you. Use the gym when you’re here and in a few months, you’ll be fencing like an amateur.” He grins at his own attempt at a joke.
I don a fake smile then show him my serious face. “Funny, White.”
“Okay, I’m going to use my left hand during this final bout. This should give you some advantage.” He moves to his place on the strip, and I do the same.
“En garde,” he says.
“En garde,” I respond, and we fight a near equal match, but he still gets the better of me in the end. In fact, he presses toward me, using some fancy sword play reminiscent of The Legend of Zorro. Then he makes a series of scores, all in the vicinity of my breasts and finally he relieves me of my foil and touches near the vee of my legs with his.
“I don’t recall that being a target area,” I say, my voice husky.
“It’s always a target for me,” he replies and drops his foil, pulls me into his arms, and kisses me till my knees get weak. Our tongues lunge and parry like they’re fencing and hitting all our target areas. We rack up so many points the bout is tied when we come up for air. The next to attack will score the winning touch, and it’s safe to say neither of us is concerned about who will come out on top.
Chantal Breelan is a ward of the state, living
under the care of a woman who is cold and heartless. Her past is a mystery, and
her future is even more uncertain. She can’t recall why she had been taken from
her parents and so she’s left with nothing but an empty hole where her
childhood should have been. When she awakens from her nightmares, she’s left
with terrible, violent images, as well as a boy whose face is oddly familiar,
yet can’t be placed.
Scared and alone, Chantal begins to confide in an
imaginary friend – a shadow in the shape of a man who stands in the corner of
her room. She is comforted when she believes he listens to her.
eighteenth birthday, Chantal is forced to leave her foster home. She moves to
New York City, but the start of her new life doesn’t begin as smoothly as she’d
hoped. One night at a subway station, Chantal meets a young boy who runs away
from her, and she’s compelled to follow him down into the tunnels. But this
Rabbit Hole reveals a world where reality is a nightmare.
Mathias is a descendant
of a Fallen Angel and beholden to wage an unfathomable war against an ancient
evil, spawned by greed and spite. A powerful fighter, he and his brethren of
Warriors vow to pay recompense for the sins of their fathers by guarding the
most precious, piercing light against the darkness – the females of their kind.
The Warriors’ pledge is to find and protect the
Oracles, their sisters and kin. Long have they fought, shedding sweat and
blood, hoping that their struggles are not in vain. Yet in his sacrifice and
service he may find life’s ultimate reward – a love to surpass all time.
It’s Tax Day, and we feel your pain. Check out these books available for FREE all day!
Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever, by L.V. Lewis
Keisha Beale and her roommate Jada Jameson have half the money they need to start their dream business. A hookup from Jada’s well-connected father gets them a meeting with the elusive venture capitalist Tristan White. The only time slot he has available is the close of business on a Friday afternoon when Jada has a nonrefundable ticket for a sorority week in Sin City. Keisha goes to the meeting alone and almost flubs their chance at getting the much-needed start-up capital they require. During this one chance meeting Tristan White discovers he wants a little coffee in his cream. Thus begins his pursuit of Keisha Beale, the only woman who can quench his raging case of Jungle Fever!
Get it FREE on Smashwords, (Must use coupon code: XU33E)
Don’t Tell: A Novella, by N.K. Smith
Have you ever loved someone so much, you almost hated them? Ever been so scared and insecure, you’ve kept your feelings to yourself, even though it hurt? Don’t Tell is not your average romance. In this soft erotic novella, Micah and Kallie are used to screwing each other over because of raging hormones and misunderstandings. He has loved her since the day he met her. Friendship blossomed, but once he recognized her changing body, he wanted her as more than a friend, but Kallie was destined to be a trophy girlfriend to the most popular guy in school. So what happens when Kallie’s jock isn’t there anymore, and what happens when Micah gets his wish? Follow the tale of these two stunted lovers from their high school graduation into adulthood. How many ways can two people hurt each other, and how many times does it take before they give up?
Chloe Blake has a unique gift, an odd connection to her house that results in glimpses of the past, present, and future via the picture window in her living room. Unfortunately, it’s a gift that sometimes proves to be more of a curse. Especially when she tries to help out Ethan Reynolds, the gorgeous boy who lives across the street – an endeavor that, for some reason, always seems to backfire.
Or leave her covered in mud.
But the house is convinced Ethan’s life is in danger and Chloe’s the only one who can save him. The problem is, he thinks she’s more than a little crazy.
When Talia Lyons was just a child, her parents were murdered before her eyes. Unable to accept their fate, Talia trains to become one of the country’s deadliest assassins to go after the man responsible. Luckily, she was born with a gift- the ability to read and influence the minds of others. Now there is only one obstacle standing between her and the retribution she craves… the feelings and distractions of a normal teenage girl, torn between her childhood sweetheart and a gorgeous new teammate.
Good thing her mother, true crime author Julia Barnes, just purchased an Airstream trailer for an adventurous move to costal South Carolina to write her next book. Living by the ocean in a shiny, silver camper may not be what Paige had in mind for the summer, but sometimes a fresh start is just what a girl needs.
That is, if she can escape the past. They’ve barely unhitched the camper when Paige realizes her mother has been keeping secrets. Big ones. They have an entire family living in Ocean Beach that Julia’s never mentioned, a connection to the most notorious serial killer in South Carolina history, and relationships to mend.
All of these things should be enough to distract Paige from her problems, but when she meets recent college graduate Justin Hawkins, a summer rebound seems like a great idea. Part beach bum, part business man, Justin is just the kind of fun Paige hopes will help her forget the mistakes she’s made.
It works until her past comes nipping at her heels and her mother’s secrets are revealed to be darker than she ever expected. Bolstered by their new friends and family, they’re both ready to face their fears head on…but at what cost?
Nestled deep in Northwest Pennsylvania, in the thick forest of the Allegheny Mountains, is a quiet community named Kennerdell. Rich in Native American and European settlement history with few inhabitants and a charming culture, growing up there was simple for Lena. But when grief stepped in and darkened her life-everything changed. After years of escape, Lena is forced to come home. A web of mystery and danger that dates back to America’s earliest days, quickly weaves around her.When a longtime friend, one who knows the tragedy that plagues Lena’s heart, comes back into her life – things get complicated. Will she be able to unfold the truth around this mystery – and herself – or will it be easier to run away?Love, danger, and history collide in Riverbend, the first book of The Riverbend Trilogy.
Get it FREE on Smashwords (Must use coupon code: KM53F)
Sneak Peek at Pawn, the upcoming release from author Sophie Davis!
Dreams and Nightmares,
Screams and Sighs,
Fate Wakes the Girl,
And Says she Dies…
When the Boy Gets in the Way,
Then the Nightmares Come to Play…
For her eighteenth birthday, Endora Lee Andrews receives the gift of dreams. Nighttime slumber brings her visions of the future, a preview of things to come. Endora’s unsettling new ability is seemingly harmless, until her dreams turn to nightmares.
When she meets the mysterious and swoon-worthy Kannon, he knows things about her that he can’t possibly know, and seems to be the key to uncovering the source of her ominous prophecies. But Kannon has many secrets, some the essential difference between life and death for Endora.
Can she discover the origins of her nightmares and how to prevent destiny, before the harbingers of death come for her?
Woven with love, mystery and mythology, PAWN is the story of a girl who was once brought back from death, only to face it again. Because Fate may give you a second chance at life, but that doesn’t mean it’s yours to keep.
My chest burned and my head was fuzzy. The little air that remained in my lungs was quickly running out, but now that the creature was actively squeezing the life out of me, it hardly mattered. I tried to dig my nails into the fingers around my throat; the creature’s skin was rubbery and my nails couldn’t find grip it. My attempts were feeble at best.
Terrified by the hallucination and frustrated by my inability to save my own life, I began to thrash about wildly. A sharp pain in the sole of my left foot temporarily cleared the cobwebs in my head and I doubled my efforts to break free. My chest ached with the need for air, and my limbs were heavy, as if the blood had turned to lead in my veins.
I threw my head back, craning my neck in a last ditch attempt to sever my attacker’s hold. A sharp point pierced the base of my skull. Stars exploded behind my closed lids. A melodic male voice whispered in my ear, “Welcome back.” Then blackness consumed me and I felt nothing.
When I came to, I remembered how Devon was wealth of useless knowledge. She had once told me that drowning was an excruciating way to die. It wasn’t, though. Floating, weightlessness. That was what drowning felt like.
Tingling started around my midsection and the back of my knees. At first, the sensation was pleasant. But as feeling and awareness returned, it felt like barbed wire was wrapped around my stomach and legs, each barb pricking my skin over and over again. A strange buzzing noise, like the hum of an old radiator, filled my ears.
I struggled weakly, and the wires tightened.
“You’re safe,” a voice assured me.
All concepts of space and time ceased to exist. One minute the pins-and-needles feeling was all consuming. The next it was gone, replaced by a coldness that seemed to seep through my pores and settle in my bones. I trembled uncontrollably. The shaking was so violent that my teeth clanged together. I tried to speak, but my lips were too numb to form words.
“This should help,” the voice said.
Soft fabric was draped over me, forming a protective barrier between the chilly air and my exposed skin. The scent of Old Spice filled my nostrils, triggering memories of my father, who used to wear that brand of aftershave. Tears prickled behind my eyes for dad. I hadn’t talked to him today. I always talked to him on my birthday.
“Shh, you are going to be okay, Endora,” the voice soothed.
Strong arms lifted me, one under my shoulders and one under my knees. My cheek pressed against something hard and wet and the piney Old Spice smell intensified. I inhaled deeply, breathing in the scent and thinking about how my father used to carry me to bed after I’d fallen asleep on the living room couch.
The sudden influx of air was too much for my oxygen deprived organs. I began to cough, my stomach roiled, and my mouth began to water in that way it does right before you throw up.
“I’m gonna be sick,” I croaked through chattering teeth.
Hastily, the person holding me set me down on my side. Cold fingers brushed my skin as they gathered clumps of wet hair clinging to my face as lake water spewed from my mouth. Some part of me thought I should be embarrassed, but that part was overshadowed by the jolt of pain that shot through my right cheek. In the next instant, the fingers released my hair, and their owner emitted an audible gasp.
“Sorry,” the voice mumbled. Tentatively the person once again pulled the hair back from my face, this time careful to avoid skin-to-skin contact.
Even after all the water was out, my stomach continued to cramp uncomfortably and I continued to dry heave. Despite the cold, sweat beaded along my hairline and under my arms. The grass was cool and wet and I pressed my cheek against the blades, relishing in the refreshing feel of it. Pounding started at the base of my skull; it felt like someone was hammering my head from the inside. I moaned, immediately wishing I hadn’t when the pounding became louder and harder.
“You’re safe now, we just need to get you some dry clothes,” my savior said.
The situation was becoming clear. This person holding my hair, promising me that I was safe, had pulled me from the water. He’d saved my life. I hadn’t drowned at all.
I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand and then rolled onto my back to glimpse the person I was forever indebted to. Opening my eyelids felt like ripping off a scab. The ordinary act was extraordinarily painful, and I only managed small slits as I peered up into the most beautiful face I’d ever seen. Two blurry, green irises returned my gaze. I blinked several more times to bring them into focus. The eyes were gorgeous, brilliant emerald lights in the darkness.
“Do you know your name?”
I nodded, too embarrassed to speak. My rescuer, who’d just witnessed me emptying the contents of my stomach on the grass, was a boy about my own age. Not even my mother had seen me this vulnerable, not since I was old enough to use the bathroom by myself, anyhow.
“What is it?” he prompted, refusing to let me off that easy.
“Eel,” I whispered. My throat was raw, swollen and the single word was painful on my vocal chords. The creature in the water that tried to drown me, tried to strangle me, came flooding back in one sharp burst of memory. I shuddered. The experience felt so real. In my mind’s eye, I could see the dark eyes staring into mine, feel the bony fingers around my throat.
“Eel?” The boy said my name like a question, like maybe he hadn’t heard me correctly. “Are you sure?”
“Yes,” I snapped, edgy from the memory of the lake monster. “Eel’s a nickname, though,” I explained in a softer tone.
As a baby, my father had christened me Eel ― like electric eel ― after the mobile that hung above my crib mysteriously stopped working every night. Each morning, without fail, he replaced the battery. He joked that I singlehandedly kept Energizer in business. The nickname stuck around, even though my father had not.
I tried to sit up, but the effort was painful and I slumped back to the grass, defeated. The boy wrapped the blanket tighter around my body before placing one hand on the small of my back and the other on my arm, helping me to a sitting position.
“Short for Endora Lee,” he muttered, more to himself than me.
I stared at him curiously. How did he know that? Then I realized it wasn’t the first time he had said my name. He’d called me Endora when he’d first covered me with the blanket.
“How did you know my name? Have we met?” I asked, an ominous feeling creeping up my spine. I had the sudden urge to get away from him, very far away from him.
“You aren’t bleeding, so that’s a good sign,” he replied, dodging my question as he carefully examined the base of my skull.
He parted wet clumps of my hair until his fingers brushed the swollen goose egg protruding from my head. A crackle of electricity sparked in the air, sending a jolt of pain ricocheting through my body.
“Owwwww!” I exclaimed, as I pulled away from him.
“Sorry,” he muttered, averting his eyes from my face to stare at his hand. “Did that hurt?”
Of course touching the welt hurt, but that wasn’t why I’d pulled away. The literal shock of his skin on my mine, the current of electricity that flowed from his fingertips to my head, had come as a very painful surprise. And judging by the way he was inspecting his hands, I surmised he hadn’t expected it either.
We sat in silence, both of us looking everywhere but at each other. Water lapped the grassy bank, tree branches cracked in the distance, crickets chirped all around us. The longer we were alone, the more uncomfortable I felt. The boy gave me the creeps. When I finally did look at him, I couldn’t tear my gaze away. I admired the perfect slope of his straight nose, his golden brown hair dripping water, his full lips, and those intense green eyes. He was a magnet, a beautiful magnet, drawing me to him.
“Endora Lee?” His face was so close to mine that his breath fanned my cheeks, warming the skin.
“What happened in the water?”
“What?” I stuttered, surprised by his question. I rubbed the spot on my neck where the creature had wrapped its slimy hands. The skin radiated heat, a sharp contrast to the cold, clammy skin surrounding it.
Spring signifies the hope that blossoms within the heart of humanity after the dark days of winter.
The Spring Equinox is a time for the rebirth, renewal, redemption. In honor of the resurgence of nature after the long, deep sleep of winter, the Author to Author group would like to shine the glorious sunlight (spotlight) on some novels we think you might enjoy.
In Lessons Learned, my main characters are all experiencing their own form of rebirth and awakening. For Sarah, coming home is a fresh start and a chance to deal with the ghosts of her past and the demons of her present. Lucas, too, has the opportunity to rebuild his life and his career by moving to a new town. Out of all the characters, the one who has the greatest chance of awakening his soul is Matt. He has lived a lie his entire life, and when a classmate learns his secret, Matt is forced to be honest with his family and friends for the very first time. Yes, his rebirth comes at a price, but in the end, Matt is stronger and happier because of it.
Voices roar through the high school cafeteria while students navigate their way to the tables. The cliques are easily spotted: the jocks, the geeks, the beauty queens, the slackers . . .
Where will he sit today?
Despite the fact he’s a handsome and impeccably dressed young man, he fades into the background. Knowing it’s pointless, the girls don’t bother to look his way, and the guys deliberately avoid his eyes.
He grips his tray tightly and heads toward the corner table with the rest of the outcasts. They nod hello, but that’s the end of any real attempt at conversation. It’s an unspoken rule of sorts. This is their refuge—a tiny bit of sanctuary in the hell that is public high school—and they’re content to sit in peace.
He takes a seat, and I can see the exhaustion on his face. It’s not a weariness that comes from too many sleepless nights. This is a bone-tired fatigue no seventeen-year-old kid should ever feel.
He’s giving in.
In my peripheral vision, I see a senior stalk into the cafeteria. He’s tall, with deep brown eyes and jet-black hair that won’t stay in place. He’s good looking, popular, and a little conceited, thanks to his father’s wealth and status.
He has a reputation to uphold.
Rumors to squash.
A score to settle.
He pulls the silver gun out of his jacket pocket. Amid the chaos, no one notices.
I try to run, but I’m frozen in place.
I try to scream, but there’s no sound.
The first shot rings out, and suddenly, everyone’s on the cold tile.
Tears, prayers, screams.
Another shot, and for some reason, I’m the only one who can’t move. Who can’t scream. Who can’t do anything but watch as the young man’s body slumps over his tray.
Finally, I find my voice and scream his name.
Title: Legacy of a Dreamer
Author: Allie Jean
Buying Links: Amazon / TWCS / B & N
What It’s About:
Mathias is a descendant of a Fallen Angel and beholden to wage an unfathomable war against an ancient evil, spawned by greed and spite. A powerful fighter, he and his brethren of Warriors vow to pay recompense for the sins of their fathers by guarding the most precious, piercing light against the darkness – their females. The Warriors’ pledge is to find and protect the Oracles, their sisters and kin. Long have they fought, shedding sweat and blood, hoping that their struggles are not in vain. Yet in his sacrifice comes redemption. And in his service he will find life’s ultimate reward – a love to surpass all time.
She scrambled across the wall, heading toward her bed, hoping she could find something to defend herself. She pushed herself across the mattress, keeping the thing in view as she reached for the lamp. He laughed, both of them knowing she was pathetic. He raised his blade as his oozing mouth formed a horrifying smile.
“Excuse me,” a male voice said from behind the cloaked figure, making both the creature and Chantal pause. A man stepped into view, grayskinned, dark-haired, dressed in only a black pair of jeans with those distinct eyes Chantal had seen in the alleyway. “I think the lady’s made it clear she wants you to back off. Besides, you’re kind of gross.”
The creature lunged at the gray-skinned man, thrusting his blade toward his bare torso. The man spun, melting into the darkness, becoming part of the shadow again. He reappeared behind the creature, yielding a blade of his own.
They fought ferociously as Chantal sat frozen on her bed. Each had the ability to move like lightning; each could disappear into the darkness.
“She will die, Warrior, no matter how many you send to protect her,” the creature said, spitting his dark venom onto the floor as he whipped around in attempt to slice at the man’s lower torso.
“Not by your hand, and not while I’m still around,” the gray man said, hacking his blade through the air and just missing the creature’s melonshaped head.
“You protect her in vain,” it said, landing a punch to the man’s flank.
“She’s survived this long,” the gray man said, plunging his blade deep into the creature’s abdomen. It sputtered, spraying black liquid onto the floor. “And she will survive tonight, just like I said she would.” He twisted the blade, causing the creature let out a gurgled cry, and a torrent of fluid poured from the creature’s terrible mouth, leaving a puddle on the floor.
Title: The End of All Things
Author: Lissa Bryan
Buying Links: TWCS / Amazon
What It’s About:
After a pandemic virus wipes out most of humanity, Carly Daniels struggles to hold onto hope for the future. What sort of world can the survivors build? Can the old values of the social contract—compassion, kindness, and altruism— survive the end of all things? Or will only the strongest survive in this brutal new world?
Justin, Carly’s traveling companion, is more cynical about human nature. But on their journey, he learns how precious hope can be, how it can keep a person going when all else seems lost, and how love can be its most powerful source.
If the old world is gone, it is up to the survivors to build a new one. Carly finds strength in her faith that things can be even better than they were before, that compassion and charity are not luxuries; they are what make us human. Life endures, and so does love. The End of All Things is only a beginning.
Carly closed her eyes, and the tears that had gathered fell. She pressed a hand over her still-flat abdomen.
Is the fate of humanity to be a world of empty nurseries? Is this the end for all of us? She suddenly realized she hadn’t seen a baby or child since the Crisis, except for the child in the fishing cabin. All of the travelers they’d encountered had been adults. A wave of despair threatened to engulf her. Carly sobbed, and it sounded horribly loud in the quiet, cheerful little room. Resolutely, she pushed it back. She couldn’t believe it was the end. She refused to believe it.
The vague musings about fate and destiny that had occupied Carly’s thoughts sporadically over the last few months came together, and she saw them as an unbroken chain leading her to what was meant to be. There was a reason for this. If mankind had been meant to go extinct, there wouldn’t be any of them left, and she wouldn’t be carrying a baby. She didn’t know whether to call it God or destiny, but there was some force in the universe that had brought Carly and Justin to this point.
She thought of the pills she had tucked away in her bag, and the pain was like a hot knife blade in her heart. She knew then she couldn’t do it. Despite all the perils they faced and the uncertain future, she wanted this baby. She already loved him or her, this tiny, precious life, this part of herself and Justin. She saw that vision in her mind again, of the dark-eyed little boy, but the thought was no longer painful. It made her happy. She thought once he got over his worry, Justin would be happy, too.
This wasn’t the end. It was the beginning. It wasn’t going to be easy, and the road they traveled was fraught with danger, but she had to have faith. Whatever had brought them to this point would see them through whatever challenges lay ahead in order to fulfill their destiny.
Justin found her in the nursery, and a dart of alarm struck him when he saw the tears on her cheeks. But she smiled at him, and her eyes were bright.
“I think you’re wrong,” she said. “I don’t think humans were supposed to die out during the Infection. And I think those of us who survived have a duty to protect the next generation. We’re starting over, Justin. We’re rebuilding the world. And this time, we’re going to make it even better.”
Justin saw it in his mind, his fate written as clear as day. Carly would have a little girl with her beautiful eyes and caramel hair, and she would only have to smile to wrap her father around her little finger. And Justin would go crazy when she started dating. No man would ever be good enough for her, especially guys like him. Or the child would be a boy, with dark eyes that sparkled with mischief, and he’d give his father heart attacks with the adventures he would get into. But just like the little girl in his vision, all his son would have to do is give that wicked little grin and he would get away with anything.
In the second installment of The Redemption Series, everyone’s path leads into one.
Lily Edwards, the last remaining female vampire, faces a daunting task. She has to find Liam Caldwell, the vampire she was forced to create, and change him back to a human. Her task won’t be easy as fellow vampires, Filipp and Debir, have been secretly plotting her demise for decades.
Liam is having second thoughts when he learns Filipp has handpicked an army of humans for him to turn into vampires and Valentina Pavel, the last member of a coven of Romanian witches, brings him a new challenge of her own. Together, they all have Liam doing the unthinkable ̶ ̶ pleading for a way out.
Friends-now-turned-enemies struggle for their eternity, while enemies-turned-friends fight side by side. Will Lily’s past give her the answers she needs to reach the future or will her darkest fears be revisited?
For a new vampire, Liam wasn’t doing the typical things a virile vampire would do. He hadn’t drained the blood from any of the humans he came into contact with. He hadn’t had any strong sexual or violent urges to act upon. He hadn’t mourned for his lost human life. He was, in fact, still in a luxury hotel suite in Bucharest, Romania. He began to wonder if he was vampire enough to take the next step
Shortly after his arrival, Debir and Filipp had gotten the call from The Manchester Group to stay put. The entire group was on high alert since Lily’s death, or at least that was what the elder vampires were told.
Liam knew different. Lily was his sire and in those moments she made him, an unbreakable bond was formed. He still felt it down to the marrow in his bones. Lily was alive in one form or another.
As for the next step, Filipp’s plan was for the three of them to strategically sire new vampires, whose strength would bring The Manchester Group down. Gideon’s plan coincided with their own, though he was occupied now and wouldn’t be of any help to them. Through fate and a hell of a lot of luck, Ian Holt was in the wrong place at the exact right time. Gideon needed a new vessel to cast a spell over Becca and receive her love and devotion. Ian was presented as if on a silver platter; Gideon turned him into his vessel and the benefits to him would be limitless.
Title: Serial Summer
Author: Angel Lawson
Buying Links: Amazon
What It’s About:
Paige Barnes is on the run.
Good thing her mother, true crime author Julia Barnes, just purchased an Airstream trailer for an adventurous move to costal South Carolina to write her next book. Living by the ocean in a shiny, silver camper may not be what Paige had in mind for the summer, but sometimes a fresh start is just what a girl needs.
This should be enough to distract Paige from her problems, but when she meets recent college graduate Justin Hawkins, a summer rebound seems like a great idea. Part beach bum, part business man, Justin is just the kind of fun Paige hopes will help her forget the mistakes she’s made.
It works until her past comes nipping at her heels and her mother’s secrets are revealed to be darker than she ever expected. Bolstered by their new friends and family, they’re both ready to face their fears head on…but at what cost?
He doesn’t fight me and we walk back to the driveway. His hand never leaves mine, and when we reach the car he positions his body so his back is flat against the door, blocking me from leaving yet. “Thanks for the ride home,” he says. His hands reach for my hips but he’s taking too long, so I grab his shirt and move closer. The instant I do a slow, wide smile briefly appears before his expression turns serious and he kisses me.
My hands fly to the back of his head and tug him toward me, and I lift on my toes to reach him better. This kiss is beyond what I’d hoped it would be, and it spreads to the pit of my stomach down to the tips of my fingers. My encouragement makes him greedy and I feel his hips push back into mine and his day’s growth of stubble rubs against my chin. I don’t care. When we part, we’re both breathing a lot heavier than before.
“That was,” he starts, but I kiss him again, because I like kissing and well, I like him.
This leads to another round of his lips on mine, then he focuses on the sensitive skin behind my ear until his teeth scrape down my throat to my collarbone and I crumble into giggles under his touch. “Ticklish,” I say, and he starts laughing too and it’s enough to break the fire between us for the moment.
“Good to know,” he says, raising his eyebrows in fun while staring at my lips.
“Good night, Justin,” I tell him and get in the car before I change my mind and take him up on the offer to see his cottage. Baby steps, I remind myself as I drive away from him the house.
Will Darcy once held the world and his future in the palm of his hand. Engaged to marry the love of his life and on the cusp of a brilliant financial career, he loses everything in a horrifying act of violence that still ripples through his life. After years of giving away only pieces of her heart, Emily Martin is beginning to realize that her life of comfort leaves her with nothing in the end. For while love is fraught with risk, turning away from love may be the biggest risk of all. After a long, dark ten years, two people must make a choice: renewal or continued deterioration.
“You have an accent. Where are you from?”
The comment and question catches him off guard because he thinks he shed the verbal flag of his Midwestern beginnings a long time ago. He’d always thought his neutral inflection was the norm and that other people had the accents. New Yorkers had a distinct dialect, but as soon as he and Gabe moved here, it was clear that it was they who possessed the strange pronunciation. Gabe stuck with the manner of speech he grew up with, but Will did his best to change his.
He would note the differences in the way he said “ten” and “flower” and “talk” and the way his New York friends said them and he
spent time perfecting the blending of the two. He didn’t want to stand out. He might have been a transplant, but he knew he was a New Yorker at heart.
Clearing his throat, he answers, “Illinois.”
It is Will that chuckles this time. “No.”
“Why’s that funny?”
“Because no one outside of East North Central Midwest seems to know that there are other cities and towns in Illinois besides Chicago.” He adopts the stereotypical Chicago accent and says, “While I like da Bearz, dare’s more dan Chi-town in da landa Lincoln.”
It feels strange but exciting to joke with someone other than Zoe. This thing that is happening between Will and Emily draws him out of himself. It’s terrifying and yet beautiful. He feels stupid at having said what he just said, but he’s moderately happy he’s said it.
Title: Riverbend (Book 1: The Riverbend Trilogy)
Author: Andrea Goodson
Buying Links: Amazon / Smashwords
What It’s About:
Nestled deep in Northwest Pennsylvania, in the thick forests of the Allegheny Mountains, is a quiet community named Kennerdell. Rich in Native American and European settlement history with few inhabitants and a charming culture, growing up there was simple for Lena. But when grief stepped in and darkened her life-everything changed. After years of escape, Lena is forced to come home. A web of mystery and danger, dating back to America’s earliest days, quickly weaves around her.
When a longtime friend, one who knows the tragedy that plagues Lena’s heart, comes back into her life – things get complicated. Will she be able to unfold the truth around this mystery – and herself – or will it be easier to run away?
Love, danger, and history collide in Riverbend, the first book of The Riverbend Trilogy.
They continued on the downhill path crunching leaves under their feet as they walked. The trail that had been created by Will and her as kids was still just as worn and beaten down as it always had been. It did not appear to have been neglected for years and looked as though it were still used every day. She imagined there had to be kids around here that would make their way through these woods, having the same fun her and Will once had, playing the same games, and discovering the same secrets. To be truthful, Lena and Will had discovered quite a bit about the world just by playing in these woods. Lena had discovered the simple beauty of
life in its simplest form, the calmness and joy that was displayed in nature. Lena began to discover these beauties when she would come here as a small child with Will and both of their fathers. Carl and Joel would point out all the small, seemingly magical, beauties of nature. The way the leaves would rustle in the wind or the way the sunshine would create a spectrum of colors by simply reflecting off of a raindrop. As Lena and Will grew older they started to play in these woods without their parents. It was then that she discovered how it felt for the first time to have a best friend, how it felt to have another boy she could depend on other than her father, and how it felt to have a childhood crush. She glanced over at the strong man that now walked beside her, she realized that he was definitely not a boy anymore.
“Do you hear the water? Not too far now.” Will said.
Not too far, she thought, this walk seemed a lot shorter when they were kids and excited about fishing or just playing by the creek catching some salamanders and crayfish. They approached the edge of the ravine and she looked down at the waterfall below. They were both silent, they somehow each knew what the other was thinking. At the foot of that waterfall, gorgeous and flowing, had been where, when they were about 13, they had both had their first, and only, kiss with one another. They glanced at each other and smiled.
Title: Talented (Talented Saga #1)
Author: Sophie Davis
Buying Links: Amazon / B & N
What It’s About:
When Talia Lyons was just a child, her parents were murdered before her eyes. Offered a choice between accepting their fate and exacting revenge, Talia trains to become one of the country’s deadliest assassins in order to kill the man responsible for their deaths: Ian Crane. Luckily, Talia was born with a gift- the ability to read and influence the minds of others. At sixteen, Talia is poised to graduate from the McDonough School for the Talented, where she learned to control her abilities. Now there is only one obstacle standing between her and the retribution she craves… Talia, herself.
Her greatest asset may also be her undoing; while a formidable weapon in the field, Talia’s talents prevent her from both shutting off the mental connection she shares with her questionable boyfriend and blocking out the thoughts of a beguiling fellow recruit. But Talia can’t afford to have the feelings and distractions of a normal teenage girl, when her life is far from normal.
She must regain the single-minded determination that has brought her this far, or it may cost Talia her life when she finally faces Crane. And even after being molded in to a weapon of war, she’ll still have to find the strength it takes to pull the trigger.
I am still not sure if it was the cold, calculated murder of my father, or the careless disposal of my mother – probably both – but I felt something inside of me snap. One minute, I was hiding in the closet with the silk of my mother’s long dresses pulled tight around my face, like curtains trying to block out the brutal scene in the bedroom. The next, I was sitting in the outer room of our hotel suite, surrounded by broken furniture, shattered glass, and the bodies of the men in black. They were all dead.
The blonde man carried a large gun slung over one shoulder, and several smaller ones were tucked at his waist. An entire team of men clamored through the doorway after him. He held up one of his hands, indicating for the men to stay back. He approached me slowly, hesitantly. He was greater than an arms distance away when he tentatively extended one of his large, gloved hands toward me; I had seen people do the same thing with wounded animals.
“Natalia?” he asked in a soft voice. I couldn’t find the energy to even nod my head, I just stared blankly. “Natalia,” he repeated. “My name is Danbury McDonough. Do you remember me? I’m friends with your daddy.”
Title: Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever (The Ghetto Girl Romance Quardilogy#1)
Author: L. V. Lewis
Buying Links: Amazon / B & N
What It’s About:
Keisha Beale, a post-college, African American woman hopes to see her dream of owning a recording studio and music store become a reality. Venture Capitalist, Tristan White, a Caucasian, One-percenter, holds the keys to realization of that dream, but it comes with a price. Tristan is prepared to front the funding for Keisha’s business with a bonus if she will agree to be his friend-with-kinky-benefits. Keisha’s acceptance of Tristan’s terms pushes the boundaries of everything she thought she always wanted in life when it comes to love and relationships. After a rocky start, she is reborn as a submissive and embraces his lifestyle with aplomb. Tristan has been adamant that he doesn’t want any emotional attachment. Keisha is all set to try and change his mind, to awaken the dormant desire of commitment in him, until demons from her past make her continued arrangement with him impossible.
Tristan hauls me into my own bedroom, shuts the door, and pins me against it then kisses me in all my morning-breathed glory. I try to avoid opening my mouth but resistance is futile, so I relax and let him kiss me until I taste only what he tastes like. I think it’s Scotch, but I can’t be sure.
When he decides to come up for air, he releases me abruptly, and I’m a limp noodle against the door.
“How can you say no to this kind of passion? What are you afraid of? Do you need to do a trial run?”
“I just don’t like the idea of being involved with you when we’re doing business together. I’m going to apologize to Princess Danai and see if she’ll take on our project.”
“I wouldn’t approach her right now if I were you,” he says. “I had to talk her out of pressing charges and filing a lawsuit against you.”
I cringe. What did I expect? Her eye is probably still some variation of black and purple right now.
“Oh,” is all I can muster.
“If you’re going to open in a little over three weeks, I’m the only shot you have,” he says.
“What happens if this,” I say and gesture between us, “doesn’t work out? I need assurances that Kente doesn’t become one of your acquisitions.”
“Have you read the contract?”
“I’ve included a provision for that. I think the language says that if personal relationships are severed, White Enterprises will ensure your company is backed by another entity before we part ways, amicably.”
“You would do that?”
“Right now, I’d do anything it takes to make you mine.”
My Triple-G and my Fairy Hoochie Mama both faint in a synchronized swoon.
Damn, this white boy is off the chain.
We hope you enjoyed the selections, and we hope your Spring Equinox brings renewal, awakening, and rebirth of everything beautiful.
Congratulations to Kahlen Aymes, author, and Ryan Matthews, character, for winning the Author-to-Author “Most Kissable Character Contest!” Kahlen is a wonderful author and her books are absolute treasures, so this win couldn’t have happened for a better writer. It has been fun working with her and all the other author-to-author writers, and I look forward to more projects with all of them in the future!
No sour grapes from my guy, Tristan White. He’s rather secure in his own talents in that way. 🙂
Below is a picture of Kissable Winner, Ryan Matthews, (an actor I’m sure we all know and love) and a sneak peek at the upcoming third installment in Kahlen’s Remembrance Trilogy!
Here is an excerpt of Kahlen Aymes’ “A Love Like This”
I pushed one on speed dial before I could change my mind. My heart was beating so fast, I felt it would burst out of my chest. Instantly, Ryan picked up.
“Julia?” I could hear the panic in his voice and it hurt. “Where are you?” he demanded. “Jesus, are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” I lied. I wasn’t fine. I hadn’t been fine for weeks. “I texted hours ago. Didn’t you get it?”
“Anyone could have sent a text from your phone. How was I to know someone hadn’t hurt you and had your phone? I needed to hear your voice!”
My heart squeezed inside my chest and plummeted to the pit of my stomach. I’d never thought of that. “I’m sorry. I didn’t think you’d believe something bad happened to me.”
“No shit, you didn’t think!” he spat angrily and I winced.
“Look, I don’t want to talk if you’re just going to yell at me.” I was exhausted. Emotionally drained and just done.
“What did you expect me to do?” he yelled again. “Agghhhh! Tell me where you are and I’ll come and get you right now.” His voice was thick, throbbing with anger and something indefinable.
“You can’t come. Just… I need some time. Ryan, please. Just give me some time,” I said again, praying he would accept my plea and not press me. It was too much to hope for.
“Why are you doing this to us?” I could hear the anguish and fear in his voice. More than anger, he was hurt.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you.” The words ripped from me. Physically, my throat was aching and emotionally, I knew I’d had it.
He huffed into the phone. “Yeah, right! That’s why you run off without a fucking word… Don’t ask me to believe you give a flying fuck what you’d put me through!”
Tears squeezed from my closed eyes as I struggled not to let out the sobs building up inside. “I didn’t think. I just had to get away. I can’t be in New York right now. I’m sorry you’re hurting, but no more than me!”
“You left town? Are you in Boston? How in the hell am I supposed to keep my head in the job like this?” Ryan demanded. I pictured him pacing angrily around the apartment, just back from the hospital, still in his scrubs. It was certain he was exhausted.
My throat thickened and I felt sick. “Your job. Your life. Your friend. Your everything, right? I’m just an observer. Stuck on the outside looking in.” I hated the crack in my voice, the weakness and helplessness that held me prisoner.
“What exactly are you saying, Julia? Tell me where the hell you are! Right now!” His breathing was hard; I could hear the refrigerator door open and then slam over the phone.
I sucked in my breath and let my fury fly. It wasn’t as if he didn’t already know why I left. “I’m saying that while that woman is invading your every waking moment! As long as you let her, I’m not coming home, Ryan, okay?!” I yelled into the phone, panting, my face crumpling in pain. “I can’t take it anymore!” My chest was
heaving and I was shaking so much I almost dropped the phone.
He sighed heavily. “We talked about this! You know that I’m just trying to be a good friend!”
I rolled over again; a new wave of pain threatening to drown me like the deepest ocean, that name was like nails on a chalk board. I was so fucking sick of hearing it. Jane this, Jane that, poor Jane…bla bla bla! Maybe I was being a bitch, but at that point, the pain over took caring.
“So what? We talked and nothing has changed! When you’re done letting your friend take over and can remember you’re married, give me a call.”
“It isn’t like that! I owe her! Don’t we both owe her?”
I was so friggin’ tired of hearing my husband taking her side over mine, yet upset that his words made me feel guilty about my own pain and resentment. “I won’t let you turn me into the bad guy, Ryan! I will not stay and watch while you let her drive a wedge between us. We never see each other, so I’m surprised you even notice I’m gone! Did you let Jane know you were calling me?” I asked bitterly. “I mean, could she spare you for a moment?” I sniffed. I knew I sounded like a petulant child and truly didn’t care. “How generous. Remind me to send her a thank you note,” I said sarcastically.
Ryan sucked in his breath harshly and paused. “This isn’t you, Julia. Where is the generous woman I know?” he asked quietly. “You’re not being fair.”
The air left my lungs in a whoosh as the pain replaced the anger instantly. My voice was quiet and I felt numb. “I can’t believe you just said that to me.” He was doing it again; taking her side over mine. Maybe that wasn’t even what was happening, but resentment welled up inside me like a damn ready to burst. She was taking him away from me and he was letting her, he was helping her. “I’m not being fair?”
“You know she sacrificed a lot for me.”
So did I, Ryan! I suffered your absence for years while we built this life!
“Yeah, I know the feeling. I guess she wins though, since she bled real blood,” I said miserably. I flushed at the jab, but I was hurting so God damned bad, I couldn’t help but lash out.
I could hear his breathing get heavier. He knew how much his words stung. “You know what we have is sacred. Please, just stop this.” His voice was low and urgent.
“Then why have I felt so alone? It feels like you’ve completely abandoned me.”
“You know how much I love you and I’m sorry, I just …”
“No,” I begged. “Please don’t say anymore. Every word… hurts. I can’t take it. Just give me some time. Don’t call me. Let me…figure things out.” I felt like I was drowning, clawing for the surface and Ryan could save me, but he didn’t.
“Julia….please…” I could hear his voice shaking, cracking. He was crying. “Don’t do this. We figure shit out together, so tell me where you are so I can come to you. I’m going crazy.”
I closed my eyes and my heart began to ache again when my Ryan finally showed up. That was the voice of the man who loved me and I wanted nothing more than to be in his arms.
“I’m safe, and I’ll call. I promise,” my voice broke again.
“Are you… are you leaving me?” Each word was dripping in emotion, anguish
Why didn’t he know nothing would make me leave him?
“It just hurts too much. She has a part of you that used to be mine and I can’t stand by and watch.”
“For Christ’s sake! How can you even say that? No one has the part of me that belongs to you!”
All of you used to belong to me. My heart was pounding. I wanted to claw it from my body so the pain would stop.
I know. I tried to force the words out, but they stuck in my throat, because they felt like a lie. But, I didn’t know. Not anymore…. and, it was killing me.
The seconds ticked by while we both cried, both of us waiting for the other to say something and neither willing to end the call. I knew he could hear the tears and the sniffles, even though I kept the sobs confined to the silent shaking of my shoulders as I pressed the heel of my hand to my mouth. Somehow, I had to keep him from hearing how broken I really was.
“Just tell me that you still love me,” he begged raggedly. “God, Julia, please.”
That was the end of me and the sobs finally erupted into the silent room. “You know…” I gasped. “You know how much I love you. Nothing can ever change that.”
This was the second time he’d questioned me about loving him. The first time being when Meredith offered me the first promotion, on his visit to New York for Valentine’s Day when he proposed. I tried to swallow the pain so I could speak, but it still crept into my shaky voice. “Just a little time, okay? Try to understand how it’s been for me. ” I love you, but it hurts too much to be with you right now. “I just really need your understanding. Please, Ryan. Just for a little while.”
He sighed heavily. His voice was low and thick, laced with his own tears. “Okay. God, I’ll try. When we got married you said you sometimes you wondered if a love like this even exists. It exists or it wouldn’t hurt so fucking bad. But, only for us, Julia.” Ryan’s voice was deep, but thick with tears. “Believe that and…don’t forget to remember me.”
As Ryan said the words that connected us for the past five years, my heart broke inside my chest, shattering instantly into a million pieces that ripped me to shreds. He knew those words would yank my heart from my chest. And they did. It was pure manipulation, pure guilt, pure heaven and pure hell.
As if I could ever forget him. My eyes squeezed shut and pushed more tears down my cheeks.
Welcome to the Author to Author Most Kissable Character Valentine Contest!
The Author to Author group has a wonderful contest in celebration of the most romantic day of the year: Valentine’s Day.
From now until February 13th at midnight, you can vote for the Most Kissable Character (characters listed below). The winning character’s author will post a snippet/outtake/sneak peek from their book for you to enjoy!
So sit back, scroll down, and meet some of the hottest characters in fiction. Don’t forget to click the SurveyMonkey link at the end (and leave the Author to Author group a little love via a comment).
Have an idea for a contest you’d love to see? Let us know! We’re always looking for some great ideas to connect with readers!
Book title: The End of All Things
Eye Color:Dark brown
Hair Color: Dark brown
Profession: Ex Special Forces soldier
Special Abilities/Talents:The man you’d want
around in case of an apocalypse, Justin is skilled in combat and survival
Why he’s the most kissable: Beneath that
tough, ruthless exterior, Justin’s got a heart as sweet and soft as melted
Profession: Protector of the Race/Student/Physics Tutor
Special Abilities/Talents:Superior strength and speed, heightened senses, compelling people and
blurring memories, an ability to shift from place to place with only a
Why he’s is the most kissable character: At first, Caleb comes off as a bit of a nerd – I mean seriously, he is a
physics tutor after all, and look at that hair – and those glasses! But peel
below the layers (and the hoodies) and va-va-voom! There’s more to him than
meets the eye, and we’re not talking Transformers here. One top of that, he’s
got a heart of gold. Sure, he’s dedicated to his job as a Protector of the
Race, but when it comes to doing his duty or doing what’s right (like
protecting Ava) – he’s going to make the right decision.
who knows the canon of the Kama Sutra from front to back. He dispenses orgasms
as if they are party favors at your own private party.
Why he’s the most kissable character:
Keisha says Tristan’s tongue should be registered as a lethal weapon due to his
ability to exact pleasure with it!
Purchase Fifty Shades of Jungle Fever by LV Lewis at Amazon
Book Titles: Redemption andRevisited
Angel of death
transport anything or anyone to any spot in the universe.
Why he is most kissable: He spent the remaining years of his human life searching the globe for
his wife. Even in the afterlife, he never gave up his search. Now that they
have been reunited, a love that has spanned a century can be fulfilled. Who
wouldn’t want to kiss someone that dedicated to the love of his eternity?
Purchase Redemption and Revisited by Lindsey Gray at
Book titles: Riverbendand Rapid Water
Name: Will Sundback
Runs the family’s remodeling and construction business.
athletic and proficient in most sports, basketball being his favorite.
Dependable and kind.
Why he is the most kissable:
caring and kind while always remaining brutally honest. He has a lovable,
confident, and sometimes cocky personality.
Special Abilities/Talents: Protector
& Guardian of the Oracles, assigned to keep Chantal safe. He has inhuman
strength and power, and has the ability to move through the Shade where evil
lurks to harm mankind. He has an incredible heart and falls for Chantal
quickly. It doesn’t hurt that he has an insane body, too.
Why he’s the most kissable: He’s handsome, fearless, and always puts his woman first. Always 😉
Book title: The Future of Our Past &
Don’t Forget to Remember Me, Books One and Two, The Remembrance Trilogy
Name: Ryan Matthews
Eye Color: Dark blue
Hair Color: Golden Brown
Profession: Medical Student/Doctor
Talents/Abilities:“Hi! Kahlen, (the chick that
writes my story), said I have to tell you about my special abilities and
talents, but no dude likes to talk about himself; for sure not me! I will say
I’m passionate about two things, my woman and my career. I’ve always wanted to
be a doctor, but nothing is more important to me than Julia. I’d sacrifice
everything just to see her smile.”
Why he’s the
most Kissable: “I had to ask Jules why I
was the most kissable because I’m like, ‘seriously?’ She said that I’m every
woman’s dream; being handsome, tall, and built, doesn’t hurt, but mostly it’s
how much I love her and always put her first that seals the deal. She also said
I’m not just kissable, but lickable. I’m rolling my eyes at it all because I’m
a modest guy, but I have to admit that last part got me grinning like the cat
that ate the canary! As long as my girl’s the canary… I’m golden!”
Purchase The Future of Our Past & Don’t Forget to Remember Me, Books One and Two, The Remembrance Trilogy by Kahlen Aymes at Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble
Book Title: Talented
Eye Color: Turquoise
Hair Color: Brown
a special forces operative for the government
Abilities/Talents: Able to mimic the talents of others
Why he is the Most Kissable Character: It may be cliché, but having him throw his life on the line for the girl
he loves just makes us want to bite that sexy bottom lip