First Chapter Friday – Four Letter Words

fourletterwordsbycharlottehoward-500

ISBN: 9781311701978
ASIN: B01F82U040

Laying my head back against the black leather seats of the Jag and gazing ahead, I lifted a finger and touched my lips that were swollen from his kiss. The weariness of the past few weeks was beginning to take over, weighing on my eyelids as they began to droop. I should have been reassured by the man sitting next to me.

I shifted in my seat so I could watch him as he drove on. He was a force that even nature had no hold over. There was an urge to reach out and cling to his broad bicep, a need to feel the security of his physical strength, aching somewhere deep inside of me.

We didn’t speak as he pressed all his weight onto the accelerator, urging the car until it was over the speed limit. I half expected the shine of blue lights to fill the inside of the car, with sirens blaring around us. But they didn’t. Of course they didn’t. Even if a marked car was to pass, I doubted Vance Ellery would slow down, and I had even less that the police would attempt to pull him over. I suspected that the personal phone number of every single high-ranking officer in the country, was tucked away in a neat Rolodex on Vance’s desk or even stored in the memory bank of his mobile phone for easy access.

The silence should have been soothing. I should have been able to let my lashes flutter against my cheeks, and slip into a relaxing slumber. Instead the lack of conversation added to the tension that built behind my eyes. I closed them, hoping that soon I would drift off into a deep sleep, where I would be surrounded by falling flowers, rainbows, and sunlight. Ha! If only I was deserving of such luck. There were no pleasant dreams awaiting me after the sandman visited. Only nightmares wanted to be part of my night. They tormented me, bringing memories that I’d tried to bury and forget. They hounded the darkness, giving me nothing but misery and pain and suffering. It was as though all my sins from a previous life had been rolled over into this one.

If the visions of his face, the sound of his voice had been the only elements of my slumber, then I might have been willing to slip away and let the desperation of rest take me to the shadowed places I dreaded. My soul was destined for torture though. I was to be punished for his crime.

The mere suggestion of sleep forced my blood to pulsate until it was the only thing I could hear, throbbing in my temples. The searing pain of anxiety and panic stabbed at my chest, pins pricking my skin, as I let my eyelids fall. A shudder fell down my spine, waking me from the light doze I’d stumbled into.

Breathe in, breathe out. In with the good, out with the bad. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Breathe in, breathe out. A mantra, taught to me by a yoga instructor years before hell had entered my life, repeated over and over in my mind. I inhaled the cool air through my nasal passages, allowing it to slip down into my painfilled lungs, exhaling all the bad out of my mouth in a gigantic whoosh.

Ahead, the roads were empty, weaving out of the village and headed towards Richart Courts, the hotel that was to be my sanctuary for the next couple of days before I had to face the next challenge. New York City.

How anyone could expect me to go back there was beyond belief. The only logical explanation for their plans for my future was that facing New York was the lesser of the two evils that haunted me, threatening to rip away the seams that had begun to fray around my already tattered edges.

I reached above my head, flipping the visor down and peering at my reflection in

the tiny mirror. My God, I looked a mess. I’d always strived for perfection. I worked and played in a male-dominated world, living with two fully-grown boys, spending my free time being rugby tackled or defending myself against a martial arts master, and until recently, acting as a secretary-cum-personal-assistant-cum-receptionist at a local car body shop. My appearance had been an escape, showing off my femininity and sexuality. I wore my brunette mane long, although it spent most of its time restricted by a piece of elastic. I made sure that my wardrobe was bursting with dresses, fitted jeans, and heels of a ridiculous height. My makeup was always immaculate.

Not now though. I stared at the ghost in the mirror. Ashen skin in desperate need of a deep cleansing facial, lank hair that could have been anywhere between dark blonde and light brown, but the grease on it made it difficult to tell, and puffy, naked eyes, ringed by a distinct lack of rest.

I made a mental note to book myself into the spa once we arrived at the hotel. I was long overdue for some pampering. A Swedish massage wouldn’t go amiss either. The idea of a good-looking man, pressing down into the aching sinew of my shoulders and neck brought a small smile to my lips. Perhaps I would take a long-needed trip to the hairdressers as well, maybe even treat myself to a makeover…

Flipping the visor back into place, I glanced towards the man driving and wondered if he’d oblige on the massage request. It was doubtful. Vance Ellery paid for masseuses, he didn’t act as one. Not unless it was leading somewhere that would pleasure him as well. I clucked my tongue against the roof my mouth and shifted back into my seat, keeping my eyes on him.

A smirk flickered across his lips as though he could read my sordid thoughts.

Chewing on my bottom lip, I stared straight-ahead as Richart Courts came into view. Illustrious and grand were the only words I could think of to describe the hotel, with its rolling grounds that spread over at least a hundred acres, if not more. I knew that behind the building was a state-of-the-art eighteen-hole golf course Vance played on when conducting business with local councillors and MPs.

Inside was as palatial, with gold-leaf filigree, marble flooring, and impressive Colonial columns supporting an expansive ceiling. And that was just the hotel lobby.

The rooms were even more decadent.

The Jag rolled to a stop at the bottom of the steps. Vance stepped out, and I waited as one of the young boys, dressed in a fine combination of cream trouser, wine-red coat with gold buttons, and gleaming white gloves, standing by the front of the hotel skipped down the stairs and opened my door for me. Words were exchanged along with keys, but no tip was given. Why would he hand a few notes over to the lad when he already paid his wages? It still hadn’t sunk in that my lover not only owned Richart Courts, but hotels around the world, including in New York, as well as several other affluent businesses.

We walked past the front desk without saying a word. There was no need to inform reception of our arrival, sign ledgers, or accept key-cards when the entire top floor was ready for him at all times. I followed in his shadow, side-stepping into the lift, and watched as he pressed the button marked ‘Private’. I’d never noticed that before…

I glanced up at him. Dark indigo eyes stared straight ahead. The muscles in his cheeks twitched. I could watch him all day, with those hooded eyes, always looking beyond my skin, and that straight nose leading to lips that urged me to kiss them.

I opened my mouth to say something to break the silence, but nothing came to mind. What would I say? Sorry? He wouldn’t want to hear it. Thank you? Again, a pointless remark that would garner me nothing but an astute glare and perhaps a kiss to shut me up. The thought of a kiss was almost tempting. I could… No. I was powerless beneath him, even when we didn’t touch. He was a formidable man, one that most feared to anger. Yet somehow, it was the one thing I was good at, infuriating him.

Shifting my stance, I felt the cold glass behind me press into my back and shoulders. It was almost as soothing as a hot bath would have been at that moment.

I opened my mouth and let out a sigh of relief. He looked down and smirked. Goddamn his smirkiness. It was a trait I’d noticed ran in his family, finding its way to his son’s lips as readily as it did his. A snarl rumbled in the base of my throat as I thought about him and his son.

That was it. My mind sprang towards Matthew Jackson, the other man in my life. I hated myself for the way I’d left things with him. But it was for the best, or so I kept trying to convince myself. The best for whom? Certainly not me. He’d confessed his undying love to me. Well… Perhaps not undying… But he had said that four letter word most women long to hear. It only hurt that it had come from the wrong person.

Still, looking up at the man beside me, I knew that he loved me. He didn’t have to say it. He showed it on a regular basis. The way he held me, the way he would do anything to protect me… I didn’t need to hear it slip from between his lips.

The bell of the lift dinged, the sound reverberating off the reflective walls, indicating our arrival. We stepped out and headed towards the door that separated the hallway from our privacy. I took a deep breath before stepping over that threshold, preparing myself for the future I was about to bring upon myself.

I had to face up to my past. But I was unsure. Was I ready for the fight that lay before me? Only time would tell. Time, and Vance Ellery.

 

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First Chapter Friday – Seven Dirty Words

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ISBN: 9781310160417
ASIN: B00XB8JCH0

I died for a short while the first time we met. There was no fluttering in my chest, no somersault of my stomach, no burning in my loins; my heart literally stopped. He was tall, at least six foot four, and dressed in a pair of worn indigo jeans that perfectly matched his intense stare. A silk black shirt covered what I imagined to be a ripple of hard muscle, and opened at the top, showing a dusting of tight dark curls. His thick neck led towards a razor-sharp, square jaw line, a straight nose that had clearly never seen the ill-effects of rough play, and deep hooded eyes. His hair had been styled with a slight wave. I was sure it was dark brown, but it could have easily been black, and had shots of silver-grey streaking through it.

My face was lined up with his toes, or more precisely, his pristinely polished black patent Chukka boots. Palms down in the thick mud beneath me, I pushed up and sneaked a glance at the man in front of me. He looked none-too-pleased to see his clothes spattered with flecks of dirt from where I had landed and splashed him. I struggled to get to my feet as my boots slipped against the wet grass. Eventually I got to my knees and leant back, looking up at him. I forced a grin onto my mud-covered face, but he didn’t return it. Finally able to stand, I wiped my hands down the sides of my bare thighs.

His glare speared through the apology that I tried to splutter, words failing to come. In the distance I heard someone call my name. Looking over my shoulder I saw my teammates beckoning me to re-join the group.

“Sorry.” The word leapt forward.

A dark eyebrow flicked upwards. “Are you going to pay for the dry-cleaning?” he asked, enunciating each word as though he was talking to some insolent child.

“It’s a muddy field, you’re watching a rugby match,” I countered, my eyes narrowing. “Try stepping away from the lines.”

“You’ve got a mouth on you.” A smile twitched at the corners of his lips.

I’ve got a mouth on me? What the hell was that supposed to mean? I was about to make some comment about him being arrogant and conceited, but the captain of the team had already reached my heel.

“You coming?” Lou tugged on my elbow, throwing a smile towards the man who loomed over me.

“Yeah,” I said, racing back into the game.

“Who’s your friend?” Lou asked, nodding towards Tall, Dark, and Smouldering.

“I haven’t got a clue, but he wasn’t impressed by my skidding halt!” I laughed, tossing her the ball.

We finished practice at two o’clock, as we did every Saturday afternoon. I listened to the laughter and loud chattering of my teammates and friends as I scrubbed at the mud that caked my arms, legs, and face. Warm water pummelled at my aching muscles. I rubbed away the dirt and sweat with a floral shower gel. I made a point of using feminine scented products, since I lived in such a masculine world.

Not only did I play rugby—a game that my mother always told me was unbecoming for a woman of my standing—I lived with two men, and worked in an office where I was the only female. I was also incredibly single. My exes were exes because they found my lifestyle impossible to deal with, and non-conquests refused to believe that I wasn’t a lesbian. Saying that, it had been over a year since I’d even tried to get anyone into my bed…

After the game, I decided to forego the usual routine of drinks at the local pub, and instead headed home to nurse the scrapes and scratches that marked my elbows, knees and chin.

Walking back to my Volkswagen Golf, I saw Tall, Dark, and Smouldering leaning against a tree. His arms were folded tightly in front of him, and he had a foot resting on one of the many boulders that separated the car park from the fields.

I threw a nod and a smile towards him as I rummaged in my jean pockets for my keys, dumping the battered and muddied holdall next to the wheel.

“Good game?” he asked, but when I looked up I realised he wasn’t pointing the question in my direction. A stick-thin, terribly young blonde had appeared by his side and kissed him on the cheek. She clutched a hockey stick in her right hand, and handed him a pink rucksack with the other.

Part of me felt almost embarrassed that I had wanted him to be talking to me. I hurriedly bundled into the car and went home.

Home was an old farmhouse at the edge of a well-to-do village, nestled in the heart of Hampshire, shared with two men; and no, neither of them were gay. I’d occasionally questioned the sexuality of my brother Mark, what with his flair for style, and his love of shopping and spas. Then again, I’d also been introduced to the many girls that had graced our home for a single night.

The other man to reside with us was Daniel Turnbull. Danny was gorgeous in every sense of the word, but may as well have been my other brother. I’d known him all my life, since he and Mark were best friends. He was also ultra-macho to the point of being a Neanderthal. It would not surprise me if one day I caught him dragging the lifeless body of some poor girl he’d clonked over the head, taking her back to his cave.

When I arrived home, both men sat in the living room, feet resting on the coffee table, beer bottle in one hand, Xbox controller in the other.

“Jeez,” I muttered, as I tried to resist sniffing the air in fear of my gag reflex reacting to the scent of primal male. Unfortunately, when you live with two men under the age of thirty, it is impossible to avoid the stench of sweaty socks, stale beer, and cheesy nachos. Combined with the fact that it was the height of summer, and you have one highly stink-filled house.

I dumped the holdall next to the washing machine and looked around the kitchen. Bowls filled with the residue of the morning’s breakfasts, an empty milk carton, several empty booze bottles, used newspapers, and layers of shed clothes were scattered around the room.

“We seriously need to tidy up,” I yelled, knowing full well that the only reaction I’d get would be an annoyed grunt or two.

Opening the dishwasher, I peered in, sighing as I discovered that it was still full of dirty pots from two days ago. The stench of old food was unbelievable, and my head snapped backwards with such force I was surprised I still had neck bones. Ripping open a packet from under the sink, I aimed the blue and yellow tablet at the little box in the door, before slamming it shut and pressing the white button. It whirred and chugged noisily as I ran the water in what little space I could find in the sink and began to sort through the pots and rubbish, attempting to find a clean spot.

Peeling a pair of boxer shorts from the back of a chair, I grimaced and flung them towards the holdall by the washing machine. “Disgusting men,” I chuntered, even though I knew that our living arrangements were as much my fault as theirs.

But that didn’t stop me from blaming them.

“Stick the kettle on,” called a voice from the front room, grating on my final nerve.

A deep growl vibrated in the base of my throat as I stormed into the room and began yelling several obscenities at them.

“All right, chill Butch!” Mark laughed.

He knew I hated that school nickname. I wanted to throw something at my brother’s head, but knew that Mother would only chastise me for having put him in hospital with a split skull yet again. Golden Boy could do no wrong. Fortunately, our father always took my side when it came to arguments, so we were evenly defended.

Danny saw sense and ducked into the next room to make tea for everyone. That is the glorious, if not slightly annoying, thing about living in England. We are the country that truly believes, without any shadow of a doubt, that a simple hot beverage can solve all issues. Arguing kids? Cup of tea. Problems at work? Cup of tea. World war, mass hunger, poverty? Have a cup of bleeding Rosy Lee.

I marched after Danny, spitting my annoyances out as he busied himself by the kettle. Throwing dirty clothes towards the washing machine and chucking empty packets in the bin did nothing to soothe my frustrations.

“Bad game?” Danny asked in an attempt at small talk.

“Not really,” I grunted, sinking into the one chair that no longer had clothes, newspapers, and pots covering it.

“Go on then.”

“Go on then, what?” I asked, squinting to emphasise my annoyance.

“Go on then, tell us what your problem is.” By this time Mark had joined us, shoving everything off the chair opposite me to land on the floor. I glowered at him like an angry cat threatening to hiss and spit.

“Jesus H. Someone’s pissed you off,” Mark groaned.

“No,” I said, my eyebrows furrowing into a tight knot. Confusion settled in. Had someone pissed me off?

“Seriously Butch, we know you far too well. Spill it.”

“Nothing!” I snapped, perhaps too quickly.

“What’s his name, and what did he do?” Danny this time, his voice getting deeper as though ready to go into full-blown protective mode.

I rolled my eyes and tried to ignore him.

“Sis, you have to tell us now.” Mark leant forward and grabbed my hands. I pulled away and threw him a ‘What-the-hell?’ look. He laughed and fell backwards into the seat again.

Danny plonked a mug each in front of us. The liquid sloshed over the sides, giving me yet more to clean up.

“Okay, okay,” I relented, picking up the mug and sipping at the too-cool drink. Danny always added too much milk for my taste, but it was still welcomed, helping to massage away the aches and pains that plagued my muscles.

I proceeded to tell them all about Tall, Dark, and Smouldering—whom I’d already shortened to TDS—even though I wasn’t sure why he was the one in my head. I could have come up with a thousand excuses for my foul mood. Rough game, bad drivers, untidy house, but the truth was that he was still at the front of my thoughts.

He had riled me in a way that I had never been riled before.

“Sounds like you’re in L.O.V.E!” cooed Mark, ridiculing me.

I wanted to slap him, but couldn’t reach, and didn’t dare throw lukewarm tea across the room, so I settled for a scowl.

Downing the rest of my drink, I headed for the holdall and dirty clothes piled on top of it, shoving them all into the machine before filling it with powder and liquids to get rid of the muck and smells, and switching it on.

“You two can finish the kitchen,” I yelled as I went up to the sanctuary of my bedroom.

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#TirgearrTuesday – Earthbound by Melora Johnson

Ally Reynolds is a veterinarian specializing in raptor rehabilitation in New Hampshire. Other than one horrific incident in her childhood and a little extra “spark” for healing in her hands, both of which she has kept secret from even her best friend, her life has been singularly boring. It has also been extremely lonely. Ally longs for someone to share her life with, but how can she trust someone with her secret?

Matthew Blake, an ornithologist at Cornell University, calls Ally, asking for her help with an injured raptor. Matthew grew up in New Zealand and has lived around the world. He has read about Ally’s high success rates in raptor rehabilitation and suspects there is more to it than is generally known.

Matthew has some secrets of his own; he is a demon hunter. He suspects Ally’s healing powers could benefit him. He wants her to join him and thinks they’d make a great team.

Can Ally trust him or is he just using her? Matthew definitely has more secrets, and some of them are about her.

• • •

“Doctor Reynolds,” a male voice called out from across the room, pulling me back to the present. It sounded somewhat familiar.

I looked up, shielding my eyes from the afternoon sun shining in the front window as a male figure strode toward me, blond hair haloed by the light. He stopped in front of me.

Startled, I rose to my feet and looked into a chiseled face, his eyes the indeterminate blue green of sea glass like I’d collected along the shoreline once as a teenager. His dark golden blond hair was short and spiky, his lopsided grin pure perfection. He was gorgeous.

In my experience, gorgeous men were not to be trusted. Well, no men really were. Oh, all right, no one was, period.

“Doctor Allyson Reynolds? I’m Doctor Matthew Scott Blake. I’m honored to have you join us. I’ve read your articles in the Raptor Rehab Newsletter.”

He held out a hand, but when I put out mine to shake it, he simply captured mine in his and placed his other hand over it. His eyes flashed green with golden flecks in the sunlight.

“I’m glad to be here,” I said, not at all sure I was anymore, as my pulse sped up. “Please, call me Ally.”

“All right, Ally it is.”

I want to climb him like a tree. I swallowed, aghast at my own thoughts. I’d only known him a few minutes.

His hands were so warm. My mother’s voice played in my head, Gorgeous men are dangerous, arrogant, and being involved with them will lead to no good. I frowned.

“It’s so good to see you…” he said. At my expression, he faltered and cleared his throat. The wattage of his smile dimmed significantly. “I mean, to meet you. I’ve been following your work since I arrived in the States, in the newsletter.”

He turned, drawing my hand through his arm. “Please, let me show you around the facilities here.”

“Uh, thank you,” I murmured, wondering how to tactfully withdraw my arm. My attraction to him was overwhelming. At the same time, his overly familiar attitude seemed a little odd.

A tall woman, her long, brown hair in a ponytail, appeared at the doorway through which Matt had arrived. She positively glowered at my arm through Matthew’s. She wore work boots, khaki shorts, and a sand colored polo shirt with the university logo, so I assumed she worked there as well. She approached us and stopped several feet away, then turned a bright smile on Matthew. “Hi, Matt. What brings you down from the Ornithology Lab?”

“This is Doctor Allyson Reynolds, the veterinarian and raptor rehabilitation specialist I suggested to Rick we bring in to help with the injured eagle from Sapsucker Woods.”

Shelly took one more look at my arm entwined with Matthew’s then smiled again at him. “Would you like me to show her around?”

He paused a moment before replying. “That’s okay, Shelly. I can handle it, I know my way. No need to take time out of your busy schedule. I’ll just show Doctor Reynolds around, then bring her to meet Rick. He’s the one overseeing the care of the eagle. Oh…” He turned to me. “This is Doctor Shelly Madison, she’s a clinical associate professor in zoo medicine.”

I saw my chance and pulled my arm out of his, ostensibly to shake Shelly’s hand. I murmured hello. She responded stiffly. Her behavior made more sense to me than his. Why treat me like an honored guest? I was just a vet who specialized in raptor rehab. I had been so anxious to get out of town I’d jumped at the chance, but now there was one question paramount in my mind—why had he called me? They were the experts here.

“Now, let’s show you around the animal hospital here.” His hands clenched, his bicep bulging under his short sleeve as he tugged the inner door to the offices open for me.

I fought the urge to retreat a step. Here stood a warrior from medieval legend. It would have been more appropriate for him to be dressed in leather armor than a button-down, short-sleeved khaki shirt, but he grabbed my hand and drew me around Shelly. “We’ll start in the library.”

As we walked, I had a stern conversation with my subconscious. Go to Ithaca, you said. You’ll get away from anyone Jen wants to set you up with, you said.

Matthew squeezed my hand. I looked up to see him beaming at me. My stomach lurched. I was out of the nest and free falling.

• • •

Melora Johnson grew up in a small town in Upstate New York, and still lives in the state with her husband, daughter, a black cat, and quite a few chickens. She writes poetry, horror, science-fiction & fantasy but dabbles in other genres and daylights as a librarian because that is where she hears the best stories. She also runs a thriving writers group. Of course, into every life a little rain must fall, as well as the occasional tornado, but you’ll find that amply covered in her writing.

• • •

Find Melora Online:

Website – http://www.melorajohnson.com

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/MeloraJohnson.Writer

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18209725.melora_johnson

Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/melorajohnson

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/melorajohnson

Blog – http://melorajohnson.wordpress.com

Tirgearr Publishing  – http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Johnson_Melora

One Night in Budapest by Lucy Felthouse – an extract #tirgearrtuesday #erotic #romance #citynights

From the Tirgearr City Nights series, I’d like to introduce Lucy Felthouse!

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Blurb:

An unexpected break-up means Hermione’s visiting Budapest alone. Determined to make the most of it, she goes on a night-time river cruise and meets Emil, sexy cocktail server. When he asks her out for dinner, she’s tempted, but she’s a long way from home and he’s a complete stranger. She decides to take a chance, and what follows is an unforgettable night which will transform her life forever.

Extract:

Locating the correct pier, Hermione pulled her ticket from her pocket and showed it to the girl welcoming passengers onto the boat. The girl—the badge pinned to her blouse giving her name as Reka—glanced at the ticket, and smiled. “Thank you. Please take a seat inside until the boat arrives. Enjoy your trip.”

With a nod, Hermione gingerly headed along the gangplank and boarded the vessel, wondering what Reka meant. Surely this was the boat? She shrugged, smiling at the other members of staff she passed, and followed the buzz of chatter to find the other passengers. Maybe it had been a misunderstanding, her meaning lost in translation or something.

Heading up a couple of steps to a bar room full of other tourists, she quickly took a seat at an empty table by the window. She’d have a great view of Budapest’s riverside highlights from here—and she was sure they’d look different again once night fell. Already the sky was darkening—it was almost four p.m. on a chilly January day.

She was so intent on admiring the Chain Bridge that she didn’t know there was anyone beside her until someone said, “Excuse me, madam? Would you like to take advantage of our special drinks offer?”

Turning to the source of the voice, her fluttering heart the only indication that she’d been startled, she smiled. “Maybe. What’s the offer?”

Her smile widened as she studied the man who’d spoken. He looked to be around her age—early twenties, and damn cute. Dark, slightly overlong hair curled on his head, deep brown eyes gave him an intensity that increased the flutters in her heart, and the dimpled smile he flashed as he replied lit up his handsome face. “It is happy hour. Two drinks for price of one.” He paused, looked at the empty seat beside her, then glanced over his shoulder as though checking if anyone was coming to join her at the table. “But perhaps you would only like one? Maybe I can see if yours can be half price…”

“It’s okay,” she replied firmly. “I’m going to be on the boat for a while, I’m sure I can manage two drinks. I don’t have to have them at the same time, do I?”

He shook his head. “No. I will be serving on the other boat in a moment, so I will look after you and your drinks to make sure you get special price.”

Immediately following his mention of an additional boat, a loud voice rang out. “Ladies and gentlemen, we are now ready for you to board the tour boat. Please be very careful while stepping from one boat to the other. As soon as you are all seated, we will begin the trip. Thank you.”

It was then Hermione realised that as she’d been gazing out of the window to one side, a smaller boat had pulled up alongside the one she was on. Everyone was getting up and moving to the staircase. “Thank you,” Hermione said, glancing at the man’s name badge. “Emil. I would absolutely like to take you up on your offer.”

He smiled, and she returned the gesture, only allowing the grimace to take over her face once she was out of his view. She was glad of any language barriers at that moment—hopefully it had prevented Emil recognising the blatant double entendre in her words, inadvertent though it had been.

Meet the author:

Lucy Felthouse is the award-winning author of erotic romance novels Stately Pleasures (named in the top 5 of Cliterati.co.uk’s 100 Modern Erotic Classics That You’ve Never Heard Of, and an Amazon bestseller), Eyes Wide Open (winner of the Love Romances Café’s Best Ménage Book 2015 award, and an Amazon bestseller) and The Persecution of the Wolves. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 150 publications to her name. She owns Erotica For All, and is one eighth of The Brit Babes.

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• Find Lucy Online •

Website
Facebook
Twitter
Blog
Goodreads
Amazon US
Amazon UK
BookBub
Erotica for All
Newsletter
Pinterest

 

My Husband’s Sin by Mary Bradford – an extract #tirgearrtuesday #contemporary #fiction

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Blurb:

In the weeks following Lillian Taylor’s burial, her four loving adult children assemble for the reading of her will. For the grieving youngest sibling, Lacey, life is about to come crashing down as a deep secret is revealed. The fall-out affects every member and they struggle to regain the happy family unit they once shared. Each of the siblings, take the reader on a journey as they try to come to terms and learn to handle this huge revelation.

Extract:

JULY

Lacey fled the Sherman and Jones Solicitors’ office in turmoil, only pausing to catch her breath before descending the cold solid steps. The appalling words kept ringing in her ears. How the bloody hell could a mother do this to her child? A bitch, that’s what she was. Lacey should have trusted her instinct all through the years.

The pleasant July day was lost on her. Without thinking further, she sought solace in the bar further down the street. In the dimly-lit pub she was the only woman.

Lacey Turner didn’t drink alcohol this early, but placed in front of her now was a double vodka with bitter lemon. Taking the glass in her trembling hand, she drank swiftly. The sour liquid made her shake her head. God, it was unpleasant. In one corner, two elderly men were sipping their stouts. Another up at the bar was reading the day’s paper.

The barman came over to where she sat and smiled. “A tough morning so far then?” He wiped down the glass-topped table and replaced some beer mats with fresh un-tattered ones.

Lacey didn’t reply. She couldn’t. The shock of this morning’s events was still gripping her tight. Christ, her life had been turned upside down in the stroke of a pen. Her hands still shook.

Looking the barman up and down, she acknowledged he was kind of cute. If times were different, she might even flirt with him; his tight black t-shirt groaned across his chest, but she didn’t have time to daydream. Reality had her gripped in its cold heartless hand.

“Can I have another?” Lacey called out to the bar attendant as he moved on to wiping down other tables. He nodded and went to the bar to get her fresh drink.

Her mind was swimming with horrible thoughts of her mother. Dear Lord, she mustn’t think like that any more. She was Lillian, not Mother. Where do you start to pick up the pieces of your life after something like that? Her mobile phone rang: it was Sally. Lacey snapped at it, turning it off in one quick touch. Bloody family. Her bloody family!

The fresh glass was placed in front of her. He seemed to linger for a moment, waiting for Lacey to make eye contact. She really did not want his company but he wasn’t going anywhere, judging by his stance before her. She looked up at him. Yep, definitely cute.

“You could try talking. This will only lead to a headache and misery.” The guy smiled encouragingly, but all she did was stare back at him, confusion and anger in her eyes. Throwing a twenty on the table, she stood up and paused.

“Maybe misery is what I deserve.”

Her taupe Guess handbag and caramel jacket hung on the chair. She shoved the bag onto her shoulder, took her jacket, and walked out. Kind, attractive barmen were not what she wanted. She desired space and freedom to take in and assimilate the horrible rotten words that she’d heard today. Who would believe it? Who would have thought when she’d wakened this morning at seven, that five hours later her life would have crashed down around her? With her mind troubled, she wandered without direction through the busy streets.

Lacey’s world had stopped, yet around her cars passed by beeping their irritation with the slow traffic, people pushed and chatted without a concern for the young woman in their midst. She strolled along, not fully noticing life around her. Those words, those poisonous words, kept swirling in her mind. The look of horror on her siblings’ faces would be etched on her memory forever. She couldn’t face them right now. What must they think of her?

“Watch it.” The woman grunted at Lacey.

“Sorry.” Lacey didn’t know what she was apologising for, but it startled her into realising she needed to get home. It would be safe there.

Picture of Mary T Bradford

Meet the author:

Mary T Bradford has been writing mainly short stories for a number of years now and has enjoyed success with her fiction in many magazines, newspapers and anthologies both in Ireland and abroad. It was because of this success, Mary took the plunge and self published her first collection titled, A Baker’s Dozen (2012) and is available in both print and e-book format from Amazon and other sites. She decided to tackle a novel when one of her stories kept getting longer and the word count continued to climb and so ended up with My Husbands Sin. She has also branched out into writing plays and has seen her work shortlisted and performed.

When taking a break from writing and reading Mary loves to crochet or cross-stitch, crafts in general interest her. Living in County Cork, Ireland, she is married and is a mother of four children. Having overcome open heart surgery in 2008, Mary made the decision to dedicate more time to her writing as her children were almost raised and were starting to spread their wings. Family is important to her and her writing often reflects the ups and downs of life that all families go through daily.

Connect with Mary through any of the links on this page and that is something else Mary enjoys, chatting with people!

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