by J.M. Maurer
Most of Addison’s days start the same. She walks to work, brushes off the townsfolks’ disapproval, and fixes any-and-all local catastrophes. But there’s not a single resident in Willow Run who doesn’t know that’s all about to change.
For MLB pitching phenom Ben Peterson, returning to Willow Run is like stepping into another world. Back in town, he’s poised to do more than merely get his head on straight. For the last six months, his thoughts have been centered around one thing—the beautiful small-town girl who taught him there’s more to life than hurling a baseball.
I laugh, feeling my body warming under the sun, and decide it’s time to slip off a layer of clothing. Waddling back to the boxes, I toss my jacket to the top of one of the columns and hear Rusty shoot me an order.
“Hey, while you’re back there, grab a dozen thins.”
I snatch up what I can and, since the noodles are fragile, take some extra precautions. Twisting back toward the table, I immediately heat up even further, my body threatening to melt into an unrecognizable puddle of liquid Addison all over the sidewalk.
Gasping, I halt mid-stride. Stunned by what I’m seeing, I let Mrs. Tinley’s noodles and the scholarship money they’d provide slip though my sweaty palms. I can’t help it. I’m pinned in my spot, captivated once again by a slate-blue stare that’s just as sultry as it is unforgettable.
Staring ahead, I hear a crunching noise and can only assume it’s from the multiple bags of Mrs. Tinley’s noodles. I imagine they’ve spilled into quite a large mess at my feet, but I’m too shocked by his presence to give the noodles another thought. Noodles? Who cares about noodles? I’ve now got nothing on my mind but the tall, blue-eyed Adonis standing before me.
So much so, I feel my heart pound hard against my chest. My mouth goes slack. And a sudden tingling under my lip balm is driving me nuts. It’s all I can do to refrain from leaning in and reacquainting my lips with his. But I know better than to do such a thing, and instead, stay in my spot, thinking, Ben, is that really you?
I don’t dare close my eyes. If I do, I fear when opening them I’ll realize he’s merely an illusion. But he’s not a mirage. My head’s just fine and my eyes aren’t playing tricks on my heart. I open my mouth to say hello, like I always do when I meet someone, but when his sly grin slides clean off his face, I bite my lower lip and swallow back my greeting.
With his gaze cast down, he takes a long moment, appearing to stare almost unseeingly at my midsection. He doesn’t blink. He doesn’t move. He doesn’t even seem to be breathing.
I don’t know what he’s thinking. His expression is rather frozen. But judging by his furrowed brows, he’s most likely come to one major conclusion.
J.M. Maurer started working as a registered nurse in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit where she cared for critically ill children, transported them from outlying hospitals, and even picked up overtime hours treating patients of all ages while inside a hyperbaric chamber. She loves to write about strong characters and their struggles in life.When not writing, you can find her spending time with family and friends, exploring the outdoors, or attempting most any sport. She resides in Chicago with her husband and son. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at www.jmmaurer.com.
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About the Author
RC Boldt currently lives on the southeastern coast of North Carolina, enjoys long walks on the beach, running, reading, people watching, and singing karaoke. If you’re in the mood for killer homemade mojitos, can’t recall the lyrics to a particular 80’s song, or just need to hang around a nonconformist who will do almost anything for a laugh, she’s your girl.
LIFE WITHOUT YOU
by S.P. West
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Paper Gold Publishing
Once upon a time in a land not so far away, a man and a woman fell in love. They were very happy. Until one day they weren’t – their happily ever after disappeared.
This is their story.
Have you ever been in love?
The kind of love that leaves you breathless and makes you feel like you can fly?
I have…. It was the biggest mistake of my life. I let him become my everything; my sun, moon and stars but that wasn’t enough for him.
What he did nearly destroyed me.
My husband’s betrayal taught me the hard way that once trust is gone, it can never be regained. He won’t ever be part of my life again.
If I could sum myself up in one word, just one, then personally I’d pick fool. Misguided, dumb fool.
I made a mistake.
A mistake so big that the future I had planned out with the love of my life vanished in the blink of an eye. I didn’t see it at the time. That would have been too easy, by the time I realized what I lost it was too late. It was my own fault; I can’t blame anyone else. Because of it I lost the one woman that meant everything to me.
But I’m telling you now if fate ever gives me a second chance with her……I swear I’ll never let Summer slip away from me again.
Last night Sergei and Dax had shut the café to the public, holding a surprise going away party in my honor. It was a bittersweet event with a touch of drama thrown in. Many of our regulars came as well as all the staff. I spent most of the first hour crying as I said farewell to all the people who’d become like family to me. When it came time to say goodbye to Sergei he’d held me tight for what seemed like hours and as we parted, I saw unshed tears in his eyes.
“I’ll miss you, my English rose,” he said in his strong Russian accent. “You come back. You have job,” before abruptly walking away from me. Always a man of few words. After Sergei had left Dax jumped in, crushing me to his body.
“Stay sweet cheeks, we’ll look after you,” he whispered in my ear as he hugged me.
“I can’t Dax,” I managed to croak out to the man who’d been like a brother to me.
He leaned back moving his arms to my waist; his eyes red and his handsome face puffy. “I know Lime Pie, I know.” he said sadly. “Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try. I…. we’ll miss you.”
“Don’t…” My heart was breaking over again. I was giving up my life, my home, and my friends all because my dickhead husband, ex-husband, couldn’t keep it in his pants and had taken me for everything that I had.
“I hate him you know, Sergei and I both do. For what he did to you, for him taking you away from us. We decided that he’s banned for life, we’ve even printed up a poster with the ass-hat’s face and name on it to put in the cafe to remind all the staff. Oh, and I did the same for that Bitch.” For the first time since this whole sorry mess began, I felt myself smile. I couldn’t bring myself to speak, couldn’t communicate to him the over whelming sense of sadness that came over me at the thought of leaving my friends behind.
“And don’t forget, we’ll come visit you. You can take us to see the sights.” His voice cracked as he tried to keep his emotions under control, “I expect tea at the Ritz and a shopping trip to Harrods young woman!”
I looked at this man. This wonderful, kind and generous human being, who’d given me a job when no one else would, despite my ineptitude, who had made me laugh on a daily basis and who had shown me true friendship. No matter what life had thrown at him, he always had a smile. I realized then that I should take a leaf out of Dax’s book. I had to let go of the hate, to turn it into indifference. Otherwise, it would eat me up inside, make me bitter.
My name is S.P. West and I’ve just finished writing my debut novel, Life Without You.
It’s a contemporary romance about betrayal, heartbreak and reconciliation but ultimately it’s a story of true love.
I would love to keep you updated as I go so please feel free to keep checking back or to sign up to my blog. You will get sneak peaks of chapters, teasers and the cover! I will also be holding a competition to win an arc (but that is much further in the future!).
So a little bit about me?
I’m a mother, wife and cat owner.
I’ve taught dance, managed a bank, worked as admin, written fan fiction…basically a jack-of-all trades master of none and now I’m writing a book!
THE LAST BREATH
The Breathless series, book 1
by Leigh Lennon
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction Romance
Cover Designer: LKO Designs
Release Date: Nov 17, 2017
Loss is not foreign to Julia Barnett. To the outside world she is the epitome of the perfect mom. That is, until the doors of her impeccable life are closed and reality hits her square in the face. Once the leading lady in her own epic love story, she can only look back at what used to be. With an absent husband, an intrusive father, a troubled child, and an ex-fiancé that is still tied to her life, it’s no wonder Julia is grasping for air in her chaotic world.
The bruises that Julia lives with are invisible to those closest to her. She lost so much early in life, more than most could survive. Now, she grapples with resentment towards her husband because of all the empty promises he’s made. In the midst of this turmoil, test results reveal an illness she is not sure she will survive.
For Julia, it is not her life that may be cut short that consumes her, but how her family will endure without her there. As everyone rallies around Julia while she fights like hell to live, she learns that family, along with love, comes in many shapes and sizes. It is her family that gives her the strength to fight the biggest battle of her life; one she doesn’t want to lose.
Every year as summer faded into fall and fall approached winter; Julia would find herself watching the calendar with dread. She knew that as November approached, she would once more have to face the reminder of her life’s greatest tragedy.
The day served as a bitter memento of what Julia had lost seventeen years before. What made the anniversary even worse, if that was possible, was the fact that she could not confide in her husband the agony she felt.
Joe, her husband, did not share in her grief and considered the events surrounding that fateful day to be a part of her life before him. While she wanted to be held by him and consoled as she worked through the agony of her loss, Joe treated it all as a distant anecdote in their lives that had no bearing on life today. In Joe’s eyes, the time Julia spent mourning the loss of her first child was her way of continuing to mourn for the life she once had.
Sitting in her office that morning, Julia stared at the bouquet of baby pink roses that had just arrived. She received the exact same flowers every year on this day. They came from the same florist and were always sent by the same man. The trouble was that these flowers never came from her husband, Joe. They came from Dean Edwards.
Julia was a rare beauty. She had an olive complexion just like her father’s and dark brown hair accented by mocha brown eyes. While she only stood 5 feet and 3 inches, Julia had no problem standing out in a crowd. Besides her obvious beauty, Julia was a kind-hearted woman with a warm and caring personality. She loved the people in her life immensely and worked hard in each of her relationships. She was an excellent boss, a trusted friend, dedicated wife and mother. It was her ambition to serve as a model for other people and to treat them, as she would want to be treated.
As Julia looked up from the flowers before her, she noticed her business partner, Len Edwards, waving to get her attention. This man was like a second father to Julia.
“Hey Jules, mind if I come in for a second? I see Joe sent you some flowers. That man sure has a way with making you feel special, wouldn’t you say?” Len didn’t know the flowers were actually a gift from his son Dean and not Julia’s husband.
Smiling warmly at Len, she did her best to ignore the compliment about her husband the same way she was trying to ignore the roses sitting on her desk. “Hey Len, come in. I’m glad you’re here. I need to take off early today. I have some personal stuff that I can’t keep putting off. Mary Beth will be here though, and she can take care of anything that comes up.”
Julia Hudson and Len Edwards had been in business together for the past nine years. They ran a very successful marketing firm that had grown from a small independent company into one of national prominence. Their success was due to a shared commitment to core values of honesty and integrity.
“You okay, Jules?” Julia understood that Len had always looked at her as an unofficial daughter and worried about her. This fact was less than surprising given how long Julia had been a friend with Len’s own children along with the amount of time they had all spent in the company of one another.
Like many who had known Julia for years, Len could see that she had lost the spark that had once been in her eyes. He knew that life at home was hard for her and had been for some time. In truth, the spark had started to fade seventeen years prior when Julia had mysteriously broken off her engagement to Dean. She had regained some of that spark back two years later when she met Joe, her husband today. The trouble was that in the past five years, it had started to fade again.
“Oh, yes, um, sorry to just leave like this. I have the Laney Farms contracts ready for signatures. Mary Beth will come get you when they arrive for the 2:30 meeting. She’s lead on this contract, but it may help if you are there as well.” She was distracted, grabbing her keys, pocketbook and flowers. She tried her best to make it to her car before she fell apart. If it hadn’t been for this important contract, she would have never even attempted to come in at all today.
The flowers were not the only routine event she followed when this day arrived each year. It was a standing custom that Julia and Dean would arrive at the cemetery around the same time. Julia knew that the roses she received were never for her, but were a clear indicator that the fateful day had once more arrived.
This novel releases Nov 17th.
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Leigh Lennon is mother, veteran and a wife of a cancer survivor. Originally with a degree in education, she started writing as an outlet that has led a deep passion as she wrote twelve books. Now ready to publish all of them, she lugs her computer with her as she crafts her next story. She can be found drinking coffee or wine, depending on the time of the day.