Exclusive Excerpt – “It’s Complicated”

28d0e-itscomplicated_cvr_ebook“My daughter’s being taught to hate me.”

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.

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Releasing “It’s Complicated”

HAPPY BOOK BIRTHDAY TO 
IT’S COMPLICATED!
28d0e-itscomplicated_cvr_ebook
It’s Complicated
Contemporary Romance
by Joyce M. Holmes

Release date: December 4, 2017

 

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.

It’s complicated, but is it impossible?

 
 
~~~oOo~~~
 
EXCERPT:
“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.”

~~~oOo~~~

 
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.
 
Links:
 
~~~oOo~~~
 
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Show No Weakness: Exclusive

2017-04-10 to 14_Show No Weakness

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.

~oOo~