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A lie might hurt, but the truth can kill.
On the eve of her wedding to Mark, Carmen’s world is shattered into a million pieces. Forced to make an impossible decision that will determine the rest of her life, she dares to chart her own course. While trying to start over again, she finds herself alone and far from the home she knew in Nova Scotia.
When she meets Liam, a handsome carpenter and business owner in Boston, her world is once again flipped on its axis. The attraction is undeniable, and the unimagined possibilities of her life tempt her into happiness again. But things that seem too good to be true, usually are.
As if there isn’t enough on her plate, she’s forced to deal with an ex-fiancé who won’t give up and a violent attack that lands her in the hospital. Unravelling the truth behind this seemingly random attack and Liam’s past proves to be far more than she bargained for. She’s now forced to face the truth, that everyone has secrets. Some are hurtful, and some are downright deadly.
When their old and new lives collide, Carmen desperately wants to protect everything she’s gained, including Liam, but at what cost?
📚 📙 📖 👨🏫 🎒 📙 📔 📘 🔖 📕 🤓 📕 📖 📗
I turn the lock on the door and slump against it, sinking to the old oak floor. My sweaty thighs suction to the hardwood so that every time I shift, my skin peels and springs back, leaving me stinging. The phone falls to my side and clatters on the floor. The noise sounds out of place, snapping my brain awake and forcing me back to awareness. Resting my head in my hands, I attempt to steady my breathing and stop my body from shaking. I close my eyes, trying not to think. It doesn’t work.
Through the windows across the room, the moon reflects off the lake like a mirror. There’s an outline of a loon adrift on the water. Its soft, sorrowful cry fills the silence. My dress hangs off the curtain rod, the epitome of femininity, reaching to the floor and billowing in an opulent cloud of white. Hundreds of hand-stitched Swarovski crystals glisten elegantly in the moonlight.
Even at this moment, such beauty isn’t lost on me. A bitter taste fills my mouth, like the tip of a tarnished spoon lingering too long on the tongue, sending a dull ache all the way to the pit of my stomach. I’m frozen. The throbbing lump in my throat swells painfully, and I can’t fight it anymore. Tears fall freely, and I sob as quietly as I can into my hands. I gasp, but it sounds like someone else. A disembodied intruder. A lost soul, grieving in such a way that should only be done in private. Vulnerability rolls through the air, thick like fog, permeating my lungs and heaving my stomach.
My muscles tense at the thought of their prying eyes and saccharine sympathy. At least I have the refuge of this room. No one will try to find me until morning. I glance at the clock on the dresser, 11:43 PM. I have, at best, seven hours to figure this out. How can I decide what I’m going to do by morning? The simple task of moving from this spot is daunting. My body’s unsteady, and my mind’s foggy from the storm of emotions whirling through me. Shame surges above the rest like a rogue wave.
How could this be happening? Now? Why now?
My stomach dances, vying for center stage. I dig my nails into my scalp, curling my fingers around fistfuls of hair and tugging. I’m so angry at him but also at myself for how pathetic this devastation is.
Resolving to get up from the floor, I stumble to the large four- poster bed. At its foot is a long cream-colored ottoman. It reminds me of a gymnast’s vault. Like I should take a running leap and spring onto the pillows in Olympic form. I slip off my shoes, leave my dress on, and clamber over the ottoman and onto the bed.
Wrapping the duvet around me, I shield myself from the world like a child hiding from pretend monsters that aren’t so imaginary anymore. The crystals on my gown wink at me one after another, assuring me that it belongs in a fairytale.
Vainly, I wish time stood still for me. Or maybe it could rewind a few hours, to ignorant bliss. Better yet, go back ten years to before Mark. The loon continues his mocking song. In the lull of its calls, the chirping of crickets fills the silence, then its cry rings out again.
I’m trying not to be drawn in by the splendor of my dress hanging in wait, fearful of its lure. Its beauty entices, and with it, holds a promise of a life I thought was mine to unfold. Perhaps my life isn’t created by my choices, not mine to shape at all. Instead, it reveals itself to me, and I bow to it.
I close my eyes to shut out the dress and all it symbolizes. This promise is broken.
📚 📙 📖 👨🏫 🎒 📙 📔 📘 🔖 📕 🤓 📕 📖 📗
His thumb traces the button on my jeans. “Can I?”
I nudge him with a whimper of admission.
He holds my gaze. “I need words.”
I suck in a shaky breath and answer, “Yes.”
He pushes the button through its hole. “Just to be clear, I want the noises too.” When he slides my zipper down, a low traitorous moan hums in my throat, as if at his command.
“Just like that,” he murmurs into another slow kiss.
My brain cells are melting. I wouldn’t be able to operate heavy machinery at this point. Or a light switch, for that matter.
He gathers the denim waist of my jeans at my hips and pauses. I shimmy in his grasp, working the material lower. Slipping them down, he caresses the curve of my ass on his way. An involuntary mewl climbs up my throat. He squeezes and a deep sound breaks from his chest, dying on his lips like a shot fired. A fraction of a second that will live in my
eardrums forever. Mine.
Kicking away my pants, I grasp the hem of my shirt, then get
distracted by his wandering hand. He strokes the side of my stomach, climbing higher, while drifting kisses over my collarbone.
“It’s almost a shame to take this off,” he mumbles against the top of my shoulder. “So beautiful.”
A shy chuckle bursts past my lips. “I’m putty in your hands. You don’t need to work for it.”
He straightens but doesn’t let go of his grip on me. “You’re gorgeous. And I’m going to work for it.”
I swallow the buzzing sensation threatening to consume me. “Okay,” I rasp.
He lifts me off the ground and sets me on the desk. My legs tremble when his hands skate up the inside of my thighs. Stilling his motion, he kneads his fingertips into my skin, his thumbs massaging little circles at that sensitive zone below my underwear.
“Tell me to stop if you want.”
I cup his face and crash my lips against his. “I don’t want you to stop,” I say before deepening the kiss.
Since I’ve distracted him, I manage to get his jeans open and shove them off. The soft denim pools at his feet. He kicks them free. Still clad in his black boxer briefs, he presses his erection into the side of my leg, and I wrap my hand around him. Another one of those deep, guttural sounds bounces up his throat, and I lock it away in my vault.
He links his thumbs around the waist of my underwear. I rise off the wooden surface so he can strip them off. Dropping to his knees, he grips my hips and tugs me forward until my ass is barely on the table. I lean onto my elbows so I don’t fall off.
“I’ve got you.” He drags his mouth up my leg.
Another raw noise escapes me, and I let my head fall, spreading my legs wider for him. “I was only expecting sex.” I gasp.
“Sex can encompass many things, Carmen. You weren’t specific.” He sweeps his tongue below the crease of my thigh and presses a kiss. “If I only get one night, I want it to count.”
I sag onto the table, feeling weaker under him. Sweeping his thumb over me, he hums in approval when he finds me wet and needy.
When he slides a finger inside me—a teasing touch—I could cry for want
“Good?” he asks, the word a gravelly scrape.
“Yes. Yes, it’s good.” There’s a pleading to my voice that he must hear, because he gives me what I want.
When his mouth touches down, he tastes me with slow indulgence, feeding me more of his low rumbling groans that ping-pong around my belly.
As if he can sense how quickly I’m unraveling, he eases his mouth away, peppering my thighs with consolation kisses. “Slow it down,” he murmurs. “Take your time.”
My heart is a renegade, pummeling out of control and threatening to explode. A supernova builds behind my ribcage when he peers up at me with brilliant azure eyes.
“Has it been a while?” he asks.
It hasn’t been that long, but it’s never been like this. Is this what all one-night stands are like?
His gaze softens, and the corners of his lips pull into a reassuring smile. The question wasn’t intended to be teasing.
“It’s been a while since it felt like this.” I hope my admission will earn me more of his mouth on my skin.
“Mm.” The hum bursts and dies at the base of his throat, making it seem involuntary in a satisfying way.
I’m rewarded when he returns his attention with a renewed fervor to where I need him most. He supports my body with an apparent ease, while I white knuckle the desk’s edge for no reason other than an additional outlet of this tension building in me. I run my fingers through his hair, stroking with gratitude and encouragement.
📚 📙 📖 👨🏫 🎒 📙 📔 📘 🔖 📕 🤓 📕 📖 📗
C.B. London lives in Nova Scotia with her husband and two young boys. Her love affair with words began with poetry at a very young age. She still finds great inspiration in written work that has a rhythmic quality, a cadence to the words that begs to be read aloud.
When she’s not busy with her family or work, you can find her trying to avoid the endless chores of adulthood, curled up under a blanket (yes, even in the summer) with a cup of coffee, reading or writing. She absolutely loves a rainy day! Romance always finds its way into whatever she’s writing, and almost always, whatever she’s reading. If there’s kissing, she’s in.
With degrees in Psychology and Sociology, she’s intrigued by the analysis of social interaction, particularly, attraction, falling in love, and the complexities of intimate relationships. As a contemporary romance and women’s fiction author, she explores these concepts while torturing her main characters as much as she can, still affording them a happily ever after at the end.