Release day, release day! Oh, happy, happy release day!
Eight years ago, Chelsea Bradley gave up a promising career in equine management to marry Chase Montgomery, a struggling real estate developer with a roving eye.
Now with their divorce settled, she’s turning to a past she’d long thought gone. The ad in the local paper for a seasoned riding instructor at Brigadoon Farms couldn’t have come at a better time. Chelsea sees the position as her ticket back into the career she loved. She has nothing to lose and everything to gain until she meets the man who could make her put everything on the line.
Will she be able to forgive his past to share in his future?
All Steven Bradshaw has left of his once glowing reputation is the family he’s acquired at Brigadoon. They took him in after the horse drugging sandal that tarnished his name and gave him the chance to rebuild his life. Now he aims to repay them by protecting the farm from the threat he sees in Chelsea. She walked out on a career at a horse farm before, leaving a farm high and dry during show season.
He won’t let that happen to Brigadoon, no matter how much he is falling for her.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Friday, June 24, 2011
“Wrong again.” Brent was wearing his gloating smile, and his eyes sparkled in the moonlight from above the porch’s overhang. “I told you he was all wrong for you. One day, my little Padawan, you’ll listen.”
“You mean one day you won’t be around to torture me.”
His hand rested on my shoulder. “You don’t want that.” His sheepish grin held a spark of uncertainty and I couldn’t help but to take advantage.
“Someday--” I trailed off, rolling my eyes for the effect. “Having your guardian angel play matchmaker isn’t exactly in the realm of normalcy”
My cell buzzed in my hand. Thank God. Jacob had thought over his last text and was now sending an apology. “See”—I held my blackberry up in Brent’s perfectly angler face. “He just needed to think it through. He’s not ready to break up with me. Jitters. That’s all. Who would blame him after the stunt you pulled?”
Brent laughed. “What?” His voice sounded like the bells from a church tower, smooth and melodious. Intoxicating if you let it be. “His hair will grow back.”
“You torched his car, Brent, while I was still in it. Not. Cool.”
Worry pulled at the corners of his eyes and his mouth tightened. “Mol.” He pulled me closer until my face rested on his chest. “You know I would never put you in any real danger.”
I did, but watching him on edge did something to me. Something thrilling. “You set a car on fire, with me in it. That’s not exactly rational behavior for a GA.”
“Watching you lose yourself to a pathological liar isn’t either.” His arms closed in tighter and his smell, mint and earth, filled my breath. Why couldn’t human boys be like this; rock hard and steady, yet vulnerable.
Brent lifted my phone from my hands and I heard the buttons click before he roared with laughter. When I pushed away the exposed look in his eyes gave way to triumph. “He’s not texting you for forgiveness. He wants his Zac Brown Band CD back.”
“You can’t be serious.” I palmed the phone and began rolling back through the messages. Damn it!
“What’d I tell ya? Not the guy for you.” Of course he wasn’t. I’d known that all along, but when you have someone as perfect at Brent in your life, what mundane human boy would be. “But there is still hope.”
I shook my head. “Oh no there isn’t. Not if you’re talking about that guy we saw in the mall.”
Brent laughed again. “I swear those were not girl jeans.” His eyes smiled and I brimmed with uncontrollable laughter.
“They said juicy on the pocket. Give it up Brent. The guy would be far more interested in you then me.”
“That’s not true.” He pulled me close again. The bells in his voice stopped.
All I could do was stare at him. This perfect celestial creature who could gleam a smile from the Devil himself and he was all mine in a way, but not mine at all in the way that counted. The thought pulled on me, like swimming against a current and not being able to catch your breath. No matter how hard I tried, or how much I wanted him, I would never be allowed the one thing that could make me happy.
Brent put his thumb under my chin, catching my face before I could drop my gaze. “Don’t do that.”
“I can’t help it.” Tears burned behind my eyes, but I defied them, blinking hard. Years of fighting my feelings had burned a hole in my resolve. I don’t know how much more of this cruel game I can take. “The Archangels will never let us be together.”
He looked away, but I’d seen the glaring contempt in his eyes. “No.” He swallowed hard and I watched as his throat reverberated. When he looked back down to me he’d found the strength to hide his resentment. His eyes danced in the silver moonlight and he curled a strand of my hair around his finger, looking at me like some fragile trinket of his that would break if he held on too hard. “But I do have an option.” His eyes darkened. “I could fall.”
I pushed away. “No.” I poked him in the chest hard against his solid wall of muscle. My finger throbbed but I ignored it. “You can’t. I won’t let you. Think of what you’d be giving up.”
“I am thinking of what I’d be giving up.” He took my injured finger in his hands and stroked it with the pad of his thumb. “I’d die for you, you know that.”
“But you don’t have too. I don’t want you to.” I felt my body quake with adrenaline, but I couldn’t stop it. “You’d be giving up everything . . . for me.”
“No.” He caressed my face with his hand, cupping my cheek and tilting my head up to meet his gaze. “I would finally be able to have what I have always wanted. I would be giving up a life without love to be with you. I’m not losing anything.”
I fell back into him. God how I wanted this, but now that the possibility was right there in front of me I couldn’t let him do it. Not for me.
He pulled me tighter, my head rested on his chest and he lowered his mouth to my ear. “You’re worth it, Mol. You’re worth Heaven and Earth and I’d die a thousand mortal deaths to not have to live an eternity without you.”
I rested my chin on his chest, angling my eyes up to his. How can I say no? I can’t. Nothing I can say will stop him because my heart isn’t in it. I want him too badly. And I know I have to make him hate me. I have to be the one to save both our souls because he can’t anymore.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
T-minus 5 days and counting until I board the plane, New York bound for my first RWA conference. I have packing lists, workshop lists, meetings not to miss lists, things to do/not do lists, places to eat lists, people to stalk . . . um, I mean to meet lists. Lists, lists, lists! I’m drowning in lists, and I’m loving it.
I’ll be twitting and facebooking from the conference, so if you’re going and want to find me, or not going but want a ring side seat, follow or friend me for the details.
Facebook user: Ann Bartle Stewart (The only one listed so far, hurray for me!)
Twitter user: Annbstewart
Feel free to tweet or message questions or comments and I’ll respond as I can.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Prompt. Losing someone you care about on a cruise ship.
Purgatory and the Ocean
Nicole leaned over the back of the captain’s white leather chair in the ship’s control room. “I don’t know where he is. That’s what I keep trying to tell you!” The towel on her shoulders slipped again and she tugged it closer. Sea brine from her raven black hair dripped down her back. “You’re not listening to me.”
The crew looked away, busing themselves with blinking knobs and dinging buttons on the control dash. The first mate scanned the open water of the Atlantic with a pair of binoculars. He angled his pointy chin in the air and his right ear in her direction. The captain adjusted his white hat. His eyes narrowed into slits. “We’ve been over the log.” He scratched at a full gray beard. “No one by that name boarded this ship in Southaven.”
“But he was here. Ask our waiter. Our Steward. They all saw him.”
“Then they ‘re lying.”
“Why would they have reason to lie?”
Nicole bit her trembling lip. “I’m telling you, I met Brendan on this ship three days ago and today he’s gone. Into thin air.” Tears trailed down her pale face, mixing with the sea water. “I’m not crazy. He was here.”
The captain shook his head. He tossed a glace back to the first mate. “We need to find her dry clothes.” He eyed a crew member. “Call the ship’s doctor. Her delusions could be a sign of hypothermia.”
Neither of the men left their posts. They passed a knowing glance at each other and went back to work.
“I’m not delusional.” Her towel slipped again, but she didn’t reach for it. Ice cold droplets of water from her hair chilled her neck and shoulders. She didn’t flinch. “And I’m not crazy! Brendan was here. Alive. Breathing. Here!”
“Then where is he now?” The captain crossed thick arms over his chest.
“I don’t know. He went out to walk the desk after dinner and never came back.”
“How did you get so wet?” He nodded at her.
“Looking for him in the rain.”
“Look outside. What do you see?”
Nicole flashed a determined stare. “Darkness. Rain. What should I see? What does this have to do with finding Brendan?”
“It’s not raining outside.” He opened the cabin door. “Clearest night of the voyage. Not a drop of rain in three days.”
Nicole shivered. “But it poured before. The clouds covered the moon and I couldn’t see anything until he”—she pointed to the first mate—“showed up with a flashlight.”
“Monty?” The captain turned to face the young man concentrating on searching the ocean instead of the young girl. “Did you go out on duty tonight?”
Monty’s unsteady hands propped the binoculars on the dash. “No Sir.” His voice cracked. “Not tonight.”
“But it was him. He grabbed my arm and pulled me into this room,” she insisted.
“That he did,” the captain spoke. “Five years ago.”
Nicole shook her head. “You’re making no sense. Why are you not looking for Brendan? He could be drowning? He could be dying?”
They all lowered the heads but the captain. He frowned, but his eyes never left hers. “Brendan is probably home, safe in his bad asleep at this hour. He’s not dead. He’s no dying. ”
Nicole lowered her brows. “No. He was here.—“
“Five years ago he was. Five years ago he came on his ship with his parents and you met. Five years ago he went for a walk on the decks and thought he’d play a trick on you.”
Her forehead creased. “No. Tonight. He went missing tonight.”
“Five years ago, when you couldn’t find him you thought he’d downed.”
She gasp. “That’s not true.”
The Captain kept going. “You saw a bird bobbing on the water in the dark, and then the rains came. You leaned over the edge to see if Brendan was in the water. You slipped.”
“No.” Nicole’s hands shot up over here face. Her body shook. “That isn’t true. He was here today. I was. . .”
“It always takes a minute for it to sink in.” The captain reached a hand to her shoulder but stopped short of touching her. “Sometimes I forget myself you aren’t real. I wish I could go back to that night. I wanted to find you. I wanted to save you.”
“I’m here. Brendan is the one missing. I keep telling you.” Nicole voice started to fade. Her body went pale and as the seconds ticked by turned white.
“We’re leaving the area,” One of the crew members said.
“I know.” The captain watched as Nicole vanished, still pleading her case. Fear filling her eyes. “We can never save her.
“Then why do we always take this route, captain? A few miles in either direction and we’d miss her completely.”
The captain went to his seat in the chair, now dry from Nicole drippings. “We didn’t save her before. This is our punishment. She’s in purgatory for an eternity; the least we can do is remember her. The girl we couldn’t pull from the ocean fast enough.”