Second Guessing, a contemporary romance by
Gail Ward Olmsted, was released on January 5th to much acclaim.
Second Guessing is the love story of Jill and Ben, who are so wrong for each other that they may actually be right!
Jill Griffin & Ben Fein are meant to be together… said no one ever!
Jill has built a successful career writing romantic ballads for many of today’s top performers. Since the tragic end of her marriage a couple years back, the 40-something single mom has all but abandoned hope for a love story of her own.
Ben is a brash, young boy-band singer seeking a solo career who hires Jill to write for him. He’s got a dark secret from his past that he wants to keep hidden.
The attraction between the two is red-hot, and when Ben falls hard for Jill, he doesn’t care who knows it. Jill’s been burned before and wants to take things slow, keeping their relationship out of the glare of the media. After a gossip columnist exposes their affair, she’s forced to decide if she can risk letting go of her past in order to build a life with Ben.
When Ben’s past makes headlines, Jill begins to wonder how well she really knows him. But as Ben climbs to the top of the pop charts, he’s determined to succeed… at convincing Jill to take a second chance on love.
Published by Roane Publishing, 2017;
About the Author
“Gail is a professor of marketing. She has taught at the college level for twenty years. A hopeless romantic, she is married to the love of her life. She is a mom to two young adults and two cats and enjoy reading, music and travel.”
(Paraphrased from her website)
Her other books include Guessing at Normal, Driving on the Left, and Jeep Tour, all of which are on sale at Amazon, and via her website’s links.
The widening of Maggie Lapage’s incredible blue-green eyes told Tom his words came as a shock, and he reminded himself this was about Hailey, not him. He didn’t need to delve into his own fears and frustrations.
“How about you sit back down and tell me what’s going on, Mr. O’Shay.”
He returned to the chair and sat, even though his instincts screamed for him to get the hell out of there. He didn’t need some nosy social worker-type offering sympathy and advice, telling him how to raise his own daughter. Especially not some young thing like the one facing him. To say she was attractive would be an understatement. Her long dark red hair flowed like liquid fire, and with her classic bone structure, full sensuous lips and tall slender figure, she could’ve been mistaken for a catwalk model rather than a children’s counselor.
He rubbed his fingers into his eyes. Who was he kidding? If he didn’t get some help, and fast, he might lose his daughter completely, and he’d walk through hell before he’d allow that to happen.
“I want to help, Mr. O’Shay, I really do.” Her voice was soft and full of compassion. And it made his jaw ache. “But first you have to help me. Please, explain the circumstances that brought you here.”
He drew in a deep breath and held it for a moment before slowly exhaling. “My lawyer told me I needed counseling for my daughter. If I don’t do this, I could lose custody. She mentioned something about Family Justice Counselors. Your agency’s on the list she gave me, so I assume you’re qualified?”
“I’m a licensed mediator, yes. I can work with the courts in high-conflict custody disputes, if that’s needed.” A perplexed frown wrinkled her forehead. “Excuse my confusion, Mr. O’Shay, but did you not say your wife had died?”
“She has.” It took real effort not to come off as frustrated and bitter. “My wife and I had been divorced for about a year before she died. She had full custody of Hailey and I had visitation.” Tom recognized the quick flash of consternation crossing Maggie Lapage’s face, and he rushed to clarify. “It was simply easier that way, not because I’m not a good dad.”
Easier for Deirdre, at any rate. He didn’t get a lot of say in the matter, and he didn’t have the money to fight her at the time. Just as he didn’t have the money to fight her parents now.
The counselor’s inquiring gaze clearly said she needed more information. He heaved his shoulders up and back and tried to formulate a logical explanation that didn’t reveal quite what a fool he’d been.
He wants a real relationship, she’s afraid to love. It’s complicated, but is it impossible? She’s a children’s counselor devoted to helping others; he’s a stubborn client reluctant to accept her assistance. He wants a warm and loving relationship; she prefers to keep things physical. Professional boundaries dictate neither of them can have what they want.
Having grown up with no one but herself to count on, Maggie Lapage carefully guards her feelings. Professionally, she goes above and beyond to give others the support she wishes she’d had as a child. When she develops a forbidden attraction to a client’s father, she does what she thinks is necessary, to save his family, and to protect her own heart.
Tom O’Shay finds his life caught in a nightmare when he risks losing custody of his daughter. It goes against his character to seek help, but he doesn’t have a choice. That doesn’t mean he has to like it. Everything changes when he falls hard for his daughter’s counselor, and he suddenly has two fights on his hands. One for his daughter, and another for the woman he loves.
“That’s a big gallery, with lots of people going through it. Just think of the exposure your work would get.”
Tom did take a moment to consider it. The Langquest Art Gallery was highly reputable, and the show Tom had done with them had been a sell-out. But to have Maggie go on his behalf to seek out representation, that was too much.
“What makes you think I want or need to sell my pieces in his gallery?”
“Because, excuse me if I’m wrong, but I had the impression you could use a little financial help at the moment.” The sympathetic look in her eyes made him squirm. No bloody way did he want her wasting any sympathy on him.
“The offer of support is nice, but seriously, my professional life, at least, is doing fine. You don’t have to fix it for me.” Which was the honest, if optimistic, truth. Business was passably good. It could always be better, but it wasn’t on life support yet, and he sure didn’t need Maggie out there drumming up customers for him.
She threw a hand up. “Look, maybe I’m interfering and you didn’t ask for help, but,” she hurried on, gaining speed as she went, “I spoke to this man with the best of intentions. You have lawyer fees and counseling fees, and heaven only knows what else with this court case. They can start to add up—”
“Okay, just stop. You’re making my head hurt.” He folded his arms across his chest. He had no intention of discussing the precariousness of his financial situation with Maggie. “This conversation is over.”
Her eyes sparkled with the love of combat. “Not if I keep talking, it isn’t.”
He glared at her, making it clear he didn’t appreciate her interference. She met his accusing gaze without flinching. “Know what your problem is?” she asked, after
an uncomfortably long stare-down.
“I only have one?”
She reached out and clutched at his hand, those long slender, talon-tipped fingers curling themselves around his, distracting him with their touch. Then she started yapping again, effectively killing the moment.
“You put on a good show, and sometimes I think you even believe it yourself, but you’re not invincible. You can use a helping hand once in a while.”
He shook his hand free and swung away from her, pacing off his frustration. “Contrary to what you believe, I’m not a charity case requiring someone to rescue me. I’ve always maintained if you’re looking for a helping hand, check the end of your own wrist first. I don’t need your pity.”
She moved in front of him, forcing him to stop, returning his impatient glare with an impressively irate one of her own. “It’s not pity, damn it. And it’s not charity. It’s a practical solution to your financial situation. Excuse me for caring.” Both arms flew into the air. “Excuse me for trying to help you out. For going out of my way to come up with
some creative ideas to increase your income. This is a winning proposition for you, one that can pay dividends for years to come. Why are you so stubbornly against it?”
Her logic was infuriating, and it fueled his temper that he didn’t have a reasonable comeback. “Please, just shut up already.”
“Come on. We both know I can’t do that.”
He threw his head back and laughed, more out of exasperation than amusement. “You really can’t, can you?”
“I was only trying to help.” Her tone contained a pout, but her expression remained fierce.
“I don’t want your help. I didn’t ask for your help. Anyone ever tell you how maddening you can be, Maggie Lapage?”
The force of his words didn’t make her retreat. She stood her ground in front of him and poked a finger into his chest. “And you’re the most pig-headed man I’ve ever met.”
He smiled. “Thank you.”
“That was not a compliment.”
“Sure it was.” Even though he was still pissed off, it wasn’t hard to let the smile stretch into a smirk. She looked so damn exasperated, and for some perverse reason he found it amusing.
“You’re infuriating!” she yelled and wheeled away from him, flailing her arms in the air again. “Why can’t you see my intentions were good?”
He let his smile twist cynically. “Have you heard about the road to hell?”
“I…give…up.” She emphasized the words by drawing them out slowly.
“Wish I could believe that.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joyce Holmes lives with her husband and very small dog in the beautiful Okanagan region of British Columbia. Photography and blogging about her travels are two of her passions, along with visiting her kids and grandkids. When she’s not dreaming up stories in her head or planning her next great adventure, she’s off enjoying the great outdoors.
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use a RoanePublishing.com Gift Code. No purchase necessary, but you must be 18 or older to enter. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter, and announced on the widget. Winner well be notified by emailed and have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. The number of entries received determines the odds of winning. This giveaway was organized by Roane Publishing’s marketing department.
All her life Cass has been the wallflower, quietly content to make her mark from behind the scenes. As a cognitive psychologist in the research field, she will use her intellect and tenacity to heal the “broken” brain. Because she learned long ago she isn’t capable of fixing broken minds; maybe not even broken hearts.
Bryan doesn’t want to even think about his present. To escape his past, he had always looked to the future. As a materials engineer he will use his ingenuity and talent to develop state-of-the-art products and devices. But now an accident has drastically broad-sided his life – and the hits keep coming.
They give each other the motive to step beyond self-consciousness – to reach outside themselves to touch the other. They discover the courage to pull one another close. To love. To be loved. From one another they draw the power and fortitude to move beyond mistakes.
About the Author
Tucked away in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Sage lives with her
daughter, a dog, a cat, and a bearded dragon. Growing up, and for quite some time after, she was a reader and a dreamer, but didn’t often put pen to paper. Then late one night, listening to music, story ideas dancing through her head, she was overcome with an inescapable urge to actually write. She is a nature-worshiper and spends a fair amount of time hiking and camping (in a tent, not the wussy RV kind), when she’s not playing Sudoku. She also rides horses as often as she can, which isn’t often, so she gets her horse fix by volunteering at the local therapeutic riding center.
Author on FaceBook
“Cass! What are you doing here?”
Her weak knees managed to get her through the curtain and to Bryan’s side where he lay on a hospital gurney. She took in his bent legs, arm draped across his abdomen, and pale face sporting a sheen of sweat.
“I stopped by the Biosystem Lab. While Jeff was failing miserably at making something up, Marcy told me he had dragged you to the medical center.”
He looked back up at the ceiling.
“Since apparently you were ambulatory, I took a chance and came here to Urgent Care rather than Emergency. What’s going on? Are you okay?” That was stupid. He plainly wasn’t, but the question slipped out anyway.
Bryan winced and screwed his eyes closed. “I’ll be fine. They’re just covering their butts.”
“Quit being such a guy. What procedure are they performing in order to cover their butts?”
“How did you get in here?”
“I lied. What’s wrong?!”
His eyebrows lifted. “Lied about-“ His breath hitched and suffering washed across his face. “-what?”
Worry tightened her chest. “Bryan, please!”
“I’ll call you la-“ His words became a groan and he rolled away from her, curling into a fetal position with his arm wrapped tightly across his abdomen, panting forcefully.
Cass turned to run to the nurse’s station, almost colliding with a man in scrubs pushing a wheelchair into the curtained area. Was it a good thing or a bad thing that he was the same nurse who had been at the front desk handing over forms when she was plying the receptionist?
“So sorry about the wait. Let’s get you loaded up. But first, how about I give you a little something for the pain?”
Bryan grunted out between clenched jaws, “No, I’m fine.”
The nurse looked over to her. “We men are too hard-headed for our own good.” Turning back to Bryan, he admonished, “That’s what got you into this mess. Okay, sit up and step down.” Bryan relinquished his grasp around his belly, then levered himself up and reached down toward the floor with one foot. The nurse looked back at her. “You can wait in the chairs just out there, Mrs. McCaffrey.”
Oh crap! Her stomach leapt and her mouth dried instantly.
Bryan’s head whipped around so fast his hand slipped off the gurney mattress when he was only halfway off. Luckily the nurse was a large man and caught him easily, then guided him to the wheelchair seat. “Careful, now.”
Bryan’s surprised gaze was firmly pinned on Cass. She narrowed her eyes into a “Don’t you dare!” expression right as Bryan opened his mouth, then another spasm of pain caused him to curl away as he was pushed through the opening in the curtain.
* * *
“He’s right in here.” The nurse indicated the room with a wave of his hand through the doorway, then went on his way down the corridor.
Cass stepped in and, heart in her throat, walked over to the side of the bed and sat in the chair. “I’m sorry I told them we…that I was… But I figured they wouldn’t let me in to see you otherwise. I just panicked. Please don’t be mad.”
The corner of Bryan’s mouth tipped up. “Of course not.” He swallowed. “It’s good to see you again.”
She nodded and grasped his hand in hers. Now, how should she present this? If she asked, he would say no, he was fine, she didn’t need to do that, he could take care of himself. But it wouldn’t be right to take charge and state her intent, as if he had no say in the matter. Giving him back his service dog was a no-brainer, but how was she going to weasel herself back in as well?
A midline approach seemed best. “When you’re released, I’ll drop Iambe at your apartment. She can help you out while you finish recuperating, so you don’t need to strain anything while your incision heals. And I can stop by often -“ Her eyes slid away. “- maybe even stay there for a bit to take care of her so you can rest and not have to worry about taking her out for walks or bending over to feed her, that sort of thing.” She lifted her gaze to assess his response.
There was a moderate smile on his face. “That’s not necessary. The incision is quite small, actually. They did their repair laparoscopically.” A teasing light came into his eyes. “So you’ll need to come up with another excuse.”
Cass took a deep breath and leaned closer, resting her chin on her crossed arms atop the side rail. Her voice shook. “Can I come home?”
His smile slowly slid away as he reached out, tucking a stray section of hair behind her ear. He ran the backs of his fingers down her cheek and thumbed away the escaped tears. Softly he pleaded, “Please come home.”
How long did it take from when you began writing your manuscript to the book launch? Thanks, Lynne. This question has multiple answers. Must Love Fashion started out as another novel. It took about one year to get that version of the story written. This is where the story gets a little interesting and juicy. I’d been working with an agent for a women’s fiction novel and when that didn’t get picked up, she encouraged me to write a romance novel. I’d had very little experience with reading romances and the ones I had read were ‘historicals’. But I had the idea of a woman with health challenges who meets and falls for a man just getting over the loss of his wife. I took that idea, came up with a title (Not Must Love Fashion) and a setting. I thought so long as I had an HEA (Happy Ever After), I was set.
I was very wrong and didn’t realize it until I shot it off to the agent. She got back to me a few weeks later with a blistering harsh rejection. After I’d gotten over the initial shock and depression of that (three weeks), I realized I had wasted an entire year. I had been working full time as an in-house interior designer for a large senior living franchise, traveling a lot and was under an enormous amount of stress. So each night I would drown myself in a glass (or two) of wine, eat dinner and then try to write. What could go wrong there?
To make this long story short, I sent the rejected manuscript to a published author I know through one of my writing groups. She got back to me with several suggested changes and a lot of compliments. In short, she felt the story had merit and told me not to give up. I had a new manuscript written in four months. I’d also made the decision to leave my full time job. I’m getting started a little later in life and didn’t have years to make this happen. The time was now!
What are you currently reading? After I had submitted Must Love Fashion to publishers, I had decided to pick up another novel I started writing a while back. A vampire romance. One would think when as a writer you have the license to create a world in which anything your heart desires can land on the page it’s easy…it’s not. With great power comes great responsibility. And stress. I hadn’t ever been a ‘huge’ vampire fan. My first bite (no pun) was the Twilight books. And then the Sookie Stackhouse novels, by Charlaine Harris. Those books however are not traditional ‘romance’ novels.
And when trying to swim in the ‘romance’ end of the pool, there are rules. I had to find a few other vampire ‘romances’ for inspiration and guidance. I stumbled upon a book called Vampires Are Forever by Lynsay Sands. It’s part of her Argeneau series. The book helped in that while I was going off in all different directions trying to make my vampires unique with a host (no pun) of various qualities, Sands’ Argeneau vampires (Immortals, as they prefer to be called) were very simple. And that made them elegant. By following her lead, it helped my story not get bogged down in scientific hog-wash and allowed me to really concentrate on the love story between the two main characters.
As it turns out that Argeneau book was the 8th in the series of now 26 books! And I’m hooked. Reading them all.
What is your latest project?.
In Must Love Fashion we meet Gwen’s siblings, Greg Mallory, a police officer and Skye Mallory, an attorney. I had actually intended to write Skye’s story next. Even had the first chapters written. But the more I worked on MLF, I grew excited to tell Greg’s story more. So poor Skye got bumped.
There are plenty of ‘runaway bride’ stories out there. But the stories usually follow an arc where the bride finds new love with someone else. And usually the jilted groom is portrayed as a jerk and the villain.
But I had the idea…what if he’s not a jerk? What if he really is the good guy and what if the runaway bride came back! In MLF, we get a glimpse of what Greg has gone through and how it’s affected him. And at the end of MLF, we meet Faith (the runaway bride) and find out she’s back in Darling Cove!
The heart of Must Have Faith is ‘why did Faith really leave?’ She told Greg why two days before the wedding, but Faith really left for another reason.
I so loved writing this book. Because of what I’d gone through to get Must Love Fashion complete, with all the changes (including even character name changes from ancient drafts), I knew Greg and Faith inside and out from the start. Greg was so much fun to write. A handsome brooding police officer. Alpha male personified. But the man has a heart of gold and he was wounded.
Can Faith repair his heart and redeem herself? Readers will have to wait to find out.
Was Must Love Fashion the first novel you’d written? No. While Must Love Fashion is my debut published novel, the first novel I’d written and completed and submitted was a Women’s Fiction novel called Forty Times Platinum. It was August of 2010 and I’d just finished another failed round of IVF treatments. My husband worked nights and I was probably lonely and depressed. I became quietly obsessed with a singer. Sitting on my laptop at night, I scoured the internet for news about him, concerts and listened to his music for comfort.
I came across a photo of him and an attractive older woman. Hey Now! Upon researching her, I learned she was a music executive who’d written a song for him. But in real life there wasn’t anything romantic between them. But what if there was? And so the idea for Forty Times Platinumwas born.
That night, I wrote what became the fourth chapter in the book. And I kept going. A year and a half later, I hit 230,000 words and I thought to myself… this might be too long. Ha Ha. (The average manuscript is about 85-90K) I spent another six months breaking the story into two parts. But it didn’t split evenly. So I had to revise Book One and Book Two. I was writing them together.
When Book One was about 130,000 words, I decided to start showing it to people. And based on the feedback, I felt I’d had something I could do ‘something’ with. It took another year which included the reality check that it needed to cut even further, but I submitted it to agents and signed with one. Unfortunately, the book didn’t get picked up. And that agent was the same one who harshly criticized what became Must Love Fashion, which btw, I submitted to publishers myself and received a total of four offers.
I plan to take FTP and its sequel and try to get that published on my own next year. My dance card for 2017 is full!
Name and explain two books which inspired you to write in the romance genre? This is an exciting question to answer. I hadn’t been a big romance fan until several years ago. I suffered from the typical snobbery of the perception of what these books were really about; unrealistic, bodice-rippers, sugary, all that. A friend of mine who primarily reads women’s fiction had mentioned a book series called The Bride Quartet, by Nora Roberts. I have to admit, those books completely dispelled my myths. Of course, I’ve read a few since then that completely enforce those myths. But there are a lot of people on this planet and no two people like the same thing.
But those Bridal books were a bridge I could cross with my women’s fiction ideas and transform them into realistic, relatable happy ever after tales.
Once I started reading romance, I couldn’t stop. For a while, I was sneaking off to Barnes and Noble and gobbling up several a week. The books I had been drawn to however were mostly historicals. Johanna Lindsey’s Malory books drew me in big time. (It’s just a coincidence that my Darling Cove family has the same- but I spelled it Mallory).
When I attend conventions and listen to Keynotes and other speakers, everyone has that one book that not only drew them in, but anchored them to romance. My book was Seven Years to Sin by Sylvia Day. That book has never seen my bookshelf. I haven’t put it away. While struggling to make edits to Forty Times Platinum based on a proofreader’s comments, I dug through Seven Years to understand what the editor was talking about. Seven Years taught me how to write romance. It opened me up to the elegant way to craft a scene, build it and show…SHOW emotions not just tell the reader about them. And if I can offer one more book to this list which is my current emotional bible, it’s Jennifer Gracen’s third Harrisons Series book, Tis the Season. The emotional punches in that book still have me catching my breath. I’m lucky enough to know Jennifer (she’s a member of my local RWA writing chapter) and I was so glad to be able to tell her how her writing made me feel.
I just hope one day, I can do the same for someone.
Lynne, thank you so much for the opportunity to tell you about myself and my debut novel MUST LOVE FASHION published and available to readers everywhere.
Here’s an Excerpt from Must Love Fashion:
“Sometimes you don’t realize what a hole you have in your life until someone fills it.”
Annoyed, Gwen roughly draped her scarf around her neck and put on her coat. But those frayed edges once again caught on one of her charm bracelets. “Son of a…” Her free hand reached up to loosen the scarf from her neck before it strangled her. But it snagged on the clasp of her necklace and twisted; trapping her as if she were in a straitjacket. “Are you kidding me?” she growled.
Furiously, she shrugged out of the coat, sending it flying across the office.
“Excuse me.” A deep gravelly voice drifted in from the doorway.
Gwen swung around and locked eyes with the most devastatingly handsome man she’d ever seen. Andrew! “Oh hi!” She held up her hand revealing the tangled mess she’d made of herself.
“Looks like you’ve gotten yourself tied up there.” Andrew put down his bag and moved toward her with powerful long legs covered in what she knew had to be a pair of Prada dress slacks. In an instant, he was touching her hand and…her neck. “What’s caught on what here?”
“I can do it.” She backed away. It was startling to be so close to him. That photo did not do this man justice. He was even more stunning in person. He was so tall and broad. Heat radiated from his body; removing the chill that clung to her all week from the drafty window.
“I think you’ve done enough.” Andrew snagged her wrist again. His commanding hold made her feel like Lois Lane when Superman rose up, caught her and said, I’ve got you.
Deborah Garland is a former computer and sports journalist, turned romance and women’s fiction author. She likes to write about love and the struggles of complicated relationships. Her heroines are strong, and the heroes fall hard for them. She lives on the North Shore of Long Island with her husband and when she’s not writing, she’s either in the gym, or reading, cuddled up with their two pugs, Zoe and Harley.
Gwendolyn Mallory has landed her dream job. After years at a small fashion retailer, she’s been given a chance to show off her public relations skills for a major brand. What woman wouldn’t be excited to work for Prada in New York City?
Former male model turned Prada Brand Manager, Andrew Morgan is ready to move on with his life—his wife passed away from cancer fifteen months ago. Even though he and Gwen share an initial fiery spark, getting involved with a co-worker has always been on Andrew’s to-don’t list.
The weeks leading up to an L.A. fashion show bring Andrew and Gwen closer to the flame. At night, she dreams of this tall handsome man taking her on his desk. And Andrew is having a hard time keeping his own fantasies under control. But when one of the designers vies for Gwen’s affections, Andrew is awash with jealousy. And out of excuses.
After the show, they share an intense, passionate kiss and some killer heavy petting in one of the dressing rooms. And in her bed, Gwen brings out the man Andrew used to be, wild and hungry. But in the afterglow of their bliss, Andrew learns Gwen has been hiding something about her health. Unable to deal with all that pain again, he leaves.
During a business trip to Milan, Gwen and Andrew give into the heat still smouldering between them. Then Gwen finds out she’s about to be transferred to Italy. Andrew doesn’t want to hold her back from such a great opportunity, but he can’t live without her. He proposes in hopes of keeping her in New York, with him.
What woman wouldn’t be excited to marry a devilishly handsome man in a Prada wedding gown?
Published by (click the logo to buy your copy now..).
It was a secret Gwen would keep throughout the day. A secret for her and Andrew to share.
Gwen and Andrew… That did have a nice ring to it.
“So, he takes up a lot of oxygen in the room, doesn’t he?” Andrew pushed on one of his knees and stood.
“Salvatore’s all showy though.” Gwen fingered the skirt and swooshed the fabric back and forth.
“Do you prefer a man who is more subtle?”
It was the first time he’d dared to ask her personal preferences for a mate, and before he could retract his question or dilute it, she said firmly, “Yes, on the surface.” And smoldering underneath.Like you Andrew. He stepped a few inches away. “I’m still concerned all the attention will be on you in that dress.” He held his chin, smooth and fresh.
“I was planning on wearing my hair up.” She gathered a handful of waves and swept them away from her face. But when he only stared at her bracelets as they clanged together, she let the bundle fall. “Or—”
“No. No.” The words caught in his throat. His fingers brushed past her cheek, lifting the hair off her shoulders again. “This is perfect.”
Yes, it is perfect. And he should be kissing her by now. Those amazing lips, pink and full on hers…and on other parts of her body, making her feel alive.
His eyes bore into hers, but he said nothing. Gwen preferred to not have to make the first move. How would she know if Andrew really wanted her in the first place, and wasn’t just taking advantage of a willing partner? But how long could she wait for him, before a crazy impulse took hold of her?
“I guess it’s settled. I’m wearing my hair up tomorrow,” she whispered, locking eyes with him.
He cleared his throat and stepped back, letting her hair fall. The weight of so many waves warmed her skin, even though she preferred the heat coming off his body. She stepped back as well and slipped into co-worker mode. “Andrew, be honest. Is this dress…too much? I prefer clothes that are simple and classic. Conservative even.”
“I would call you classic, Gwen. But not simple. You wear our clothes beautifully.” He ran his hand over the suit jacket she had draped on a desk chair. “The way they sit on you tells a story of…of the woman we know other women want to be.”
The compliment left her breathless. “Thank you, Andrew.”
“No, Gwen. I want to thank you.” His shoulders softened. “I need you to know, I couldn’t have done this without you.”
“That’s not true.” She swiped at eyes she suspected were shiny with tears, she wouldn’t let fall. Better to be respected as an equal, and not thought of as a weepy lightweight. “You’ve run plenty of these shows.”
“Yes, and I know what it takes to pull this off. There was no way I could have done what you’ve done…for this show.” He ran a hand through his hair, his wedding band was—gone!
The sight took Gwen’s own breath away. She twisted her hair to the side, to keep her hands busy. “Did you want to do one final walk through for tomorrow?”
“No. We’re set.” He bent down to the pick up the shoebox. His back straightened, emphasizing his dramatic height.
She moved toward Andrew to hug him. Immediately there was a different feel to his touch from the night of their first drink. The night when everything had turned around. And upside down. His fingers pressed into her skin. His body molded against hers. Oh, the smell of him, musky and woodsy. Masculine. There it was, his heart, beating wildly. There was so much of this man, his heart must work so hard to pump his rich blood through so many veins.
The feel of his grip softening, meant it was time for her to let go. “Have a good night Andrew.” She touched his hands and leaned upward for a kiss on the cheek. The edge of his mouth—warm and tender as she remembered—caught the corner of her lips. Tickle, Tickle went her stomach.
A strand of her long hair caught in his collar, binding them together for a brief moment. Creating a bridge that could bring them together…if someone was brave enough to cross.
T E Hodden has provided this insight to one character in A Symphony of Heartstrings.
you will have to read the novel to work out which character wrote this letter, as it is a “bonus” – it is not in the novel.
From: Barbary, London.
Subject: Worrying anomaly.
Right, there is no easy way to say this, but there is something wrong with the Loom.
For any auditors reading this, I will assume you know exactly as much as everybody else who tells me how to do my job, which is to say I am going to assume you have trouble finding your own buttocks with both hands and a diagram. The Loom is the web of emotions and relationships that binds the mortals together. Every emotion and action echoes through the web. There are threads of light and magic that links you to every other life you have touched.
Assuming you were mortal. At some point.
The music of the Loom is the symphony of the city. For weeks now there has been a little romantic melody surrounding a girl called Jenny. Nice girl, as it happens, a librarian, born with cerebral palsy, but flourishing. Sweet, kind, and pretty. Her music swells, all strings and brass. That should mean she is meeting somebody who resonates with her. But it never sets. It drops away before it reaches a crescendo. I don’t think this is an accident. I think somebody is manipulating the Loom.
With me so far? Good. Then you are probably asking why somebody doesn’t investigate. They did. Opal had one of his agents, Bob, investigate, and… I am going to remain polite and suggest this is “a worrying anomaly” and not “an absolute shambles.” But… You understand there are only really three rules to what the agents are meant to do? “Help people find life, nudge the world towards harmony, and don’t be seen.” The third of those being somewhat important.
Was it really too much to ask, that Bob not throw himself at the poor girl and introduce himself? We have mortal peeping behind the curtain. This is never, NEVER, a good idea. Do you know how many times this has ended well? NONE!
Return here for a blog post of Tom’s,
on 26th April
Time for a practical demonstration…
I step into a sandwich shop. It is busy with the lunch hour rush. Jimmy sits at one of the tables, staring into his book, and trying not to think. He is a heavy guy, big and round with jowls and a frown. His connection to the Loom is worn thin, and a lot of his strings play sour, dull, notes. He is nearly forty, but has never been kissed and never known that warm fuzzy glow in his chest.
What he has known is shame, self-doubt, and fear. Whenever he has felt his heart crack open, he has been trained to think it is unnatural and shameful. People like him were the butts of jokes, when he was a kid. Most the people he hang around still use “queer” and “gay” as a shorthand for worthless and disgusting. He has spent too long burying his feelings, and now believes that they make him less of a man, and less of a human..
There is a girl at his office who likes him. She is friendly and flirty. He responds politely, but is so convinced of his self-image that he thinks she is quietly mocking him. He sees no malice in her, but he thinks there is gentle teasing at his expense.
Kelly is in the queue. He is waiting on a chicken and avocado baguette to go with his bottle of soda. He is thirty-nine, tall, burly, and jolly. He has a kind laugh and gets on with everybody in the office. He recognises Jimmy. They bump into each other in the office kitchen, making coffees. They talk about cricket and football while waiting on the kettle.
Jimmy nods for Kelly to join him. They joke about the latest email from head office. The “Fair culture flowchart” is a policy that spends three thousand words telling them, in essence, not to be dicks.
Neither men see me standing by their table. I pluck the string that binds them. It plays a sweet note, made heavy by Jimmy’s doubts. I knock his drink into his lap. Jimmy squawks in surprise and Kelly drops to his knees, mopping at Jimmy’s lap with napkins. Jimmy panics at the touch.
“Hey. Let me.” Jimmy laughs a little. “If you don’t mind where you put your hands, you will do something you will regret.”
I stoop down to Kelly’s ear and whisper, “Will you?”
Kelly gives a dirty laugh. “I wouldn’t regret it. Would you?”
For a moment they hold each other’s gazes.
Meet Bob. Bob is the guy between the lines of every love story you ever met. The lucky chance, the twist of fate, the astounding coincidence that sets sparks flying. Never seen, but always there.
Today Bob is assigned to help Jenny find love. But there is something more than bad luck working against the quirky librarian. Bob might have to save her life, before he can help her find love.
And he can’t do that from the shadows….
Enter the Giveaway – a $10 Roane Publishing Gift Card Rafflecopter
About T.E. Hodden
E. Hodden trained in engineering, and works in the rail industry. He writes as a hobby, when he is not walking the Kent coast, looking for forgotten nooks and crannies of history and folklore.
After a car accident causes Daisy Carmichael to see the future, she is plagued by not only the things she sees but the deadly secrets of the young man who saved her life.
About Sara J. Bernhardt
Sara J Bernhardt is an author and poet who has been writing since a very young age, and is a winner of several poetry and short story contests. It is clear that Bernhardt writes in a realistic tone while still creating the enthralling feeling of fantasy. Her writing puts readers in a world that they will truly love to be a part of. While the writing is edgy and catching, it is also not too complex, which makes it a comfortable and enjoyable read for everyone.
Taylor Sinclair, Joely’s teenaged son, has mixed feelings about his mother’s burgeoning relationship with Cole Dennison. In this exclusive, we “listen in” to Taylor’s phone call to his friend after visiting his father. Note: this is Not in the novel Show No Weakness.
Check the “Released: Show No Weakness” Page for details of the book, released 10th April
“Hey, Taylor, how did the visit go with your dad last weekend?”
“Ah, it was okay,” Taylor told his friend, Nelson. He sprawled out on the couch and thumped his feet up onto the coffee table.
“Really? Cuz, you don’t sound okay. You sound kinda pissed. Did something happen with your dad?”
“Nah.” Taylor frowned and switched the phone to his other ear, then reached for the glass of juice he’d just poured himself. “I’m choked with my mom.” He took several long gulps of juice and put the glass back down with a loud sigh.
Nelson laughed. “That’s been happening a lot lately. What’s up now?”
“You remember that cop I told you about?”
“The one you met when you got in trouble, and now you’re playing basketball with him?”
“That’s right. Cole. He’s a really cool dude, for a cop, and we’re actually, like, friends. But now I find out he and my mom are dating.” Frustration surged through Taylor, and he barely stopped himself from kicking the coffee table.
“Yeah, so what’s wrong with that?”
“Seriously, Nelson?” Taylor couldn’t believe Nelson didn’t automatically see the problem. “What are the chances they’ll stay together? Practically zero,” he answered himself before Nelson could say anything. “And then Mom will hate him, just like she hates my dad, and she’ll stop me from spending time with Cole, just like she’s done with my dad. Where’s that fair? He was my friend, first.” Even he could hear the pout in his voice, but he had a right to be damn mad about this.
Nelson kept quiet for a moment, then he said, “Yeah, but what if he and Joely do stay together? That’d be cool, wouldn’t it? And you’d get to hang out with Cole even more.”
Taylor gave another exasperated sigh. Before he could tell his friend what he thought about him taking Joely’s side, he heard the condo’s hall door open, signalling the arrival of his mom. No way was he sticking around to deal with her staring at him with that disappointed look on her face.
“Look, Mom’s home from work, so I gotta go. Talk to you later, okay?”
He chucked the phone onto the couch and bee-lined for his room without even glancing at his mom. If she didn’t like it, tough. She deserved the silent treatment.