FREE!

15-10 October 2021

To steal a heart ebook

Blurb

Phoebe had been betrayed by her long-time lover.

Her life was falling apart until she met Lincoln and Alistair.

Two men very much in love. With each other!

They taught her what it was to be loved, cherished, adored.

But, how will they survive when tragedy strikes?

Forever was never promised.

LINKS

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

AMAZON AU

AMAZON CA

 

EXCERPT

© Susan Horsnell 2019

CHAPTER ONE

Phoebe Rogers slouched at her desk and glared at the pictures on her computer. Images of Callum, her scumbag boyfriend, and a tall, shapely, blonde haired woman filled the screen.  They were kissing, holding hands and gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes. Another image of them both staring straight at the camera, mocked her.

How could he have done this? Only two days before they had been discussing a romantic holiday to one of the islands. He’d been crooning sweet words into her ears while fucking her senseless, and behind her back he’d also been screwing this bitch! Phoebe had no idea who the woman was or who had sent the images to her. The only thing she was sure of was that five years of her life had gone down the drain. No wonder the bastard wouldn’t discuss marriage.

Anger mingled with sadness at her loss but she would face it with her shoulders pulled back and her well-endowed chest pushed out. Like she did everything in her life. Like her Army Sargent father had always demanded. There had never been any tolerance for ‘childish tears and tantrums’ in her parents’ house. “Face it head on,” her father had barked at her on more than one occasion. She’d never received the hugs she craved when she was hurt. “Wouldn’t do for a soldier to be seen to be soft,” her father’s voice echoed in her mind.

Phoebe shut down her computer, gathered her purse, files from her desk and strode with purpose to the suite of offices where her bosses worked. They were brothers and co-owners of the legal firm. David and Tony Allen were bent over a desk examining papers and discussing a case in David’s office. Phoebe knocked on the door frame and both men stopped what they were doing and glanced up.

David, a tall, slender man with black hair was the elder brother. He noted the purse and files in her arms before checking his watch. “What can we do for you Phoebe?”

“David, I need to lodge these files at the courthouse and I was hoping I might be able to head home a bit earlier.” To her dismay, her voice shook with emotion. I will not cry, I will not cry. Tears pooled and burned in her eyes as she struggled not to set them free.

David didn’t miss the glazed, watery appearance of her eyes and he heard the distress as she spoke. He knew her well, she had been with them since the beginning and he had never seen her upset. He was worried as he moved toward her. He placed his hand on her shoulder. “Is everything okay?” he asked gently.

On hearing David’s words, Tony, shorter than his older brother and with brown hair streaked with grey, left the papers he’d gone back to studying and straightened. Moving closer to her, he could clearly see something had upset her. “Phoebe, what’s happened?” he asked.

The concern shown by the brothers was the catalyst that flung her over the edge. Tears streamed from her eyes, her shoulders shook.

Both men moved to her side. David handed her a tissue he’d pulled from a box on the desk.

“Come and sit down,” Tony urged. She allowed herself to be guided to a corner of the office where four chairs were arranged around a small, round table. She plonked herself down in a chair and dropped her purse and the files on the table. She dabbed at her eyes before blowing her nose.

David and Tony sat in chairs flanking her. They waited patiently, without speaking while she composed herself.

“I just found out that Callum has been having an affair.” A fresh wave of tears washed over her face.

“Asshole,” Tony muttered.

The brothers had never liked Callum but out of respect for Phoebe, they had kept their opinions to themselves.

“Is there anything we can do to help?” David asked.

“No, but thank you for offering. I need to go home and pack. I want to be gone before he gets there.” Home – it would never be home again. She hated the thought of that woman in her bed, touching her things. She resolved to collect her personal belongings and stay at a Backpackers while she searched for a small unit.

David was speaking but Phoebe had been lost in her thoughts and hadn’t heard a word. “Sorry, I didn’t hear what you said,” she apologized.

“I was saying if you need a few days off to search for somewhere or if you need help with moving, you only need ask. Tony and I can manage for a few days without you.”

“Barely, but we promise the offices will be here when you’re ready to come back,” Tony quipped. “I can’t promise you what state they’ll be in though.”

His comment caused her lips to twitch at the corners but not enough to form a smile. The brothers, in their late forties and married with children had been so good to her.

Phoebe thought back to seven years previously. She had answered their advertisement for a Receptionist/Help All when they had decided to go into partnership with each other. The interview had been held in the garage at David’s home as the new offices were in the process of being fitted out.

They had explained to her, they were fed up with their jobs, at not being able to do things their own way or take only cases they chose. After family discussions, it was agreed by all, they would be better off in business for themselves.

It came at the perfect time. Phoebe had been sick to death of her job as a Secretary for an Accountant who couldn’t keep his hands to himself. At that point in time she had convinced herself, she would rather shovel shit than continue there.

The three of them ‘clicked’ and Phoebe had been offered the position on the spot at almost double what she’d been earning. It had given her a great sense of satisfaction to go into her job the next morning and tell creepy hands, as she’d nicknamed him, she quit. She had gathered her things and walked out, never looking back. It was the best move she’d ever made.

Since beginning with the Allen brothers their relationships had flourished. The men treated her with respect and consideration. On many occasions they even asked for her opinion. This was flattering considering all she knew about the industry she had learnt from them. She loved them both in a ‘fatherly’ way and they treated her much like their daughter.

“I don’t need any time off. I know how busy you both are and I can view any unit in my off time,” Phoebe said.

“Rubbish, you will take the rest of the week off. Where will you be staying?” David asked.

Three days off would be a huge help to her and with the weekend off as well, she would have five days to search for somewhere to live. There was enough money in the bank to cover essentials and still leave a satisfactory amount in savings. She accepted gratefully. “Thank you both. If you can manage it would make it easier for me to find somewhere to live. I don’t need help to move. I’m not taking anything SHE might have touched.”

More tears escaped and this time David offered her the whole box of tissues. She plucked two from it. “I’ll stay at the backpackers for now.”

“I’m not sure you should do that,” Tony said. Both Phoebe and David looked at him questioningly. “Aren’t they full of long haired drug addicts and criminals?”

Phoebe and David burst into laughter.

“Where on earth did you get that idea from?” David asked his brother.

“You know, when you watch the crime shows on television, they always find them in backpackers or some seedy motel.

David clapped a hand on his brother’s shoulder. “Bro, you watch too much television. They’re not all like that.”

“The one I have in mind is more like a B&B so I’m sure I’ll be perfectly safe. Hopefully it will only be for a few days,” Phoebe said.

“You could stay in the guest room at my place,” Tony offered.

“Or mine,” David countered.

“Thanks, but I’d rather be alone if you don’t mind.” She stood and both men bounced to their feet. “I need to get home before Callum does. I really don’t want to see him.

“We understand,” Tony said. “Would you like us to come with you?”

“No, I’ll be fine,” she answered.

The brothers escorted her to the front door and watched as she moved off down the street.

“I hope she sorts herself out,” David said.

“I hope she finds someone who can encourage her to take an interest in herself. She needs someone who’ll boost her self-esteem not grind it into the ground like that asshole did. I think underneath those thick glasses and daggy khaki dresses, there could be a real beauty.” Tony mused.

“I agree little brother, I agree. For now, though, we need to be here to help get her through this.”

The men glanced once more at Phoebe’s retreating back before returning inside.

***

Phoebe hurried down the crowded street to the courthouse. As soon as she had the papers lodged, she would hop a bus home. As she zigzagged around the oncoming people, thoughts of the past five years invaded her mind. She was surprised to realize; they were all of the bad times. The day Callum had gone out with friends instead of being by her side as her father was laid to rest. When she had been in hospital for days, her body burning up with infection thanks to a ruptured appendix, Callum had not visited once. He had even been heartless enough to leave her to catch a cab home when she was discharged.

Then, there were the things he’d said – “you have such a fat ass but I guess when you do nothing but sit around all day, it’s to be expected.” And, “I’m not going to be seen in public with you until you lose weight and dress properly.” He’d had no problem with her fucking, cooking, cleaning, washing and ironing for him though.

Tears burned her eyes as she recalled the nastiness and realized, for the past five years, she had been no better than a slave to Callum’s every whim. “Well, not any more,” she mumbled as she dug in her pocket for a tissue. She climbed the courthouse steps as she swiped at her eyes. No more, it ends right now. I will never again be at a man’s beck and call.

With her thoughts elsewhere and not paying attention to what she was doing, she tripped on a step close to the top. She felt herself fall as if in slow motion. Her purse flew from her hand, files scattered around her and she caught her glasses in mid-air as they catapulted from her face. Her knees hit the concrete hard. A strong arm circled her waist preventing her from tumbling back down to where she had come from. She was spun around and gently lowered onto a step. Helpful passersby placed her purse and files alongside her.

Gazing up as she adjusted her glasses, she met with the clearest blue eyes she had ever seen. They were the color of the Azure Sea which she had seen pictures of. Her eyes perused his face, strong jaw and short stubble. He probably hadn’t shaved since morning. Not a blonde hair on his head was out of place. The man was magazine gorgeous.

“Thank you,” she whispered as she lowered her eyes and brushed the dirt from her skirt.

Gathering her purse and the files from beside her, Phoebe attempted to stand. It was then she noted the strong arm still circled her waist and held her firmly in place. “Sit for a few minutes until the shock passes,” the stranger advised.

Phoebe relaxed, he was probably right. Her shaking had not yet subsided, she most likely was suffering from shock.

“I think your knees are going to be very bruised and sore for a few days. I doubt those stockings will be wearable again.” His deep, quiet voice washed over her. It was soothing and damn sexy.

Phoebe glanced down. The stockings were certainly shredded and spots of blood dotted her knees. At that moment they didn’t hurt but she had no doubt, given time, they would. “I’ll be fine. Please don’t let me keep you from your business.” Her voice shook, tears threatened.

The man’s arm tightened around her. “I can wait until you’re feeling better. I’ve lodged my papers and I was only headed home. My name is Lincoln Bennett, Linc for short.”

“I’m Phoebe. I have papers to lodge for my bosses before closing.”

“I must say it was an interesting way for us to meet. I’ve never had a lady fall at my feet before.”

In spite of her bad day, she chuckled. “I’ve never fallen at the feet of such a handsome man before.” She blushed furiously. Did I just say that out loud? Could this day get any worse?

Linc threw his head back and laughed. A deep, chest rumbling laugh that had tingles dancing down her spine.

They sat silent for a few moments, his arm still circled her waist. Her body was reacting to his touch in ways she’d never before experienced. She felt hot, every nerve in her body was on edge, her senses were heightened. Was it caused by this man or, was it the fall?

Linc pushed to his feet. Disappointment flowed through her as he removed his arm from her waist. He held out his hand to assist her to stand. She accepted and slipped her palm into his. The bolt which zapped through her from his touch was unexpected and she stumbled. Her head collided with his chest and although she attempted to push away, he held her to him.

“I think you are still very unsteady. How about I walk you inside?” he asked.

Phoebe couldn’t think, her dry tongue was stuck to the roof of her mouth. This man had her confused, tied up in knots. She could barely remember her name. For heaven’s sake, Phoebe, get a fucking grip. You just met the man.

Linc held her away and gazed down at her face. “Phoebe, do you need to sit down?” He sounded concerned.

“I’m fine. I must get these papers lodged and hurry home. It’s getting late and I don’t want any trouble.”

Linc frowned. “Trouble, from who? Surely your boss will understand if the papers are late.”

“Yes they would. That’s not the problem.” Phoebe pushed from his body determined to put space between them, take care of her business and get home before Callum turned up.

Linc released her but kept one hand on her arm until he was sure she wouldn’t fall.

Phoebe raked her eyes over her knight as she stood. He was tall, the top of her head barely reached his shoulders. He wore a gray pinstriped suit, white shirt and dark gray tie. His chest was broad and she suspected, muscular. Thighs strained against the fabric of the trousers, his legs were long and well-muscled. This man worked out. When her eyes reached his face, he was grinning. She blushed furiously. Caught! So much for staying away from men. Not that a man like this would ever want a frump like me.

“Sorry, Linc. I really must be going. Thank you again for catching me and preventing me from falling back down the steps. I’d offer to buy you a cup of coffee but I really have to get going.” She checked her dress covered her knees and scurried into the building.

Linc watched as the entrance swallowed her up.

SEQUEL

FALLING, FALLEN

Falling, Fallen ebook

Blurb

Aline Bennett-Miller had no interest in anything other than the law and her parents.

Xavier Pierce wanted Aline, and was determined to have her.

Will she give a relationship a chance?

Has she already fallen for the handsome professor?

Or, will Xavier push too hard and cause her to run?

LINKS

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

AMAZON AU

AMAZON CA

 

 

 

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