Anniversary Blog Hop - A Year in Love


Blog Hop with us, share a comment, follow the original round-robin story from chapter to chapter and read excerpts from books that capture the imagination, scratch your itch for a really good love story and take you on journeys of the heart and soul.

Happy hopping!

♥  ♥  ♥  ♥
 
Seven of the Blog Hop authors got together and created an original story for your enjoyment.  
 

Read Chapter 4 ->


Chapter Five

Storm silently wished the world would disappear. Or at least that all the people crowding her, staring at her, would. The animals she didn’t mind; they didn’t look at her with eyes that asked questions she had no intention of answering. Storm had asked Tara to come in early because the rough night she’d passed had left Storm with a mild migraine. She had wanted to try to rest, hoping that the light of day would keep the nightmares at bay. But she hadn’t counted on Blake starting construction on her house so soon. Or Cheri Long dropping by to drip her acidic brand of charm all over Storm’s front lawn. Or her father and Tiny’s spot inspection of the new handyman. She could forget about that nap and the mild migraine would likely be epic by lunchtime.

Storm stowed the sigh as she tried to find room in her refrigerator for the three pies. Her parents had reason to worry and Blake had a job to do.

By the time she had the pies put away, her father and Blake were knee deep in a masculine conversation about the benefits of hand tools versus power tools. Tara was sending her father’s Shepard into fits of glee with a thorough brushing. Storm felt superfluous and, grateful for the respite, she discretely reached into a cabinet for pain reliever.

Nothing could be done for her puffy, bloodshot eyes. She knew from experience she’d wear the scars of her sleepless night boldly. But they would fade. The other scars, the ones she could and did hide beneath denim jeans and long sleeve tees, those would be with her always. Just as, she suspected grimly, the night terrors would. She thought about the mare she’d freed last night on her way home from Blake’s; the panic attack immediately after; and the brief loss of time she’d experienced when she’d been trapped in her own horrific memories.

Maybe Cheri’s right; maybe I am bat-shit crazy. Storm thought as she swallowed the pills. She’d heard the woman’s parting shot. It hadn’t stung. There wasn’t anything that shrewish woman could say or do that would sting. And even if it had stung, all a person needed to do was sit back and wait for Cheri to sabotage herself. The woman was already working her way through her fourth husband and doing her best to ruin this marriage too. Cheri Long didn’t know the definition of monogamy and didn’t care to learn. The line ‘Cheri wouldn’t be married for Long’ was a popular joke around town and Cheri knew it. The fact made her bitter. And for some reason she pointed most of that bitterness at Storm.

But maybe, just this once, Cheri had the right of it. Storm leaned back against the counter and took a long pull from a water bottle. She longed to hold the cold plastic to her forehead. But knew doing so would be a clear tell. It was bad enough her dad was going to go home and tell her mom that she wasn’t sleeping. Storm didn’t want him going back and telling her mom that she was having headaches too. She had caused them enough worry. Caught in her thoughts and in the pain beating a tattoo behind her temples, she didn’t notice that her dad was talking to Tara and that Blake had crossed to her side.

“I can unload the rest tomorrow if the pain is too great.” He spoke gently, softly, as though he had experience with migraines or that he knew she wouldn’t want the others to hear. Her gaze fell back to her father. Either way, she appreciated his thoughtfulness.

“That obvious?”

“I have some experience.” The tone in his voice had Storm’s eyes meeting his. She didn’t see the pity or the questions she was expecting. She saw understanding. Not of her past, he couldn’t know that what she’d been through, obviously, but of long, restless nights and pain filled days.

Yes, she thought, he understands. Suddenly at odds, with herself and with him, she raised a nervous hand to brush back a loose lock of hair from her face. He grasped her arm by the wrist and gently but firmly inspected her hand. Blake took the water bottle from her other hand and subjected it to the same scrutiny.

“What happened? You weren’t hurt when you left my place last night.” A snippy retort died on her lips when she saw genuine concern etched across his features. Conflict roared within her. She didn’t like her wrists being restrained but she didn’t want the contact with his warm, work-roughened palms to end.

“A horse was caught in some barbed wire. I got a little torn up helping her.” She shrugged and her wrists slid out of his grasp until her fingers remained clasped in his. “Goes with the territory; cats scratch; dogs bite.”

“And barbed wire cuts.” He continued. It was a casual remark; a natural progression to the statement she’d just made but she flinched just the same. Every muscle in her body tensed as though she had been struck. She would have pulled away from him but he held fast to her hands.

“Hey.” His voice was soothing, not unlike how he’d crooned to Ari on the ride to her office. “You’re okay Storm. You’re okay.”

She took a deep breath and calm flooded through her along with a blushing embarrassment. She saw her dad take a step toward them and shook her hands free of Blake’s. Stepping away from the poodle’s compelling owner she asked, “Dad, how about a cup of coffee and a slice of pie?”

It wasn’t until much later, when Storm had a quiet moment to herself in the office that she realized her headache had passed and there was no sign of cuts on her hands.

*

Blake hadn’t meant to draw her. He’d only intended to sketch the idea he’d had for the porch swing. Before he’d known it he had sketched a full image of her rocking there and part of him was itching to put it on canvas. Blake wondered why this woman had brought back his urge to draw and paint.

There was something dark in Storm Halliwell’s past; something that went beyond experiencing loss; beyond the helplessness, the hopelessness of not being able to save someone that you love.

The same feelings he’d had for a year now.

The tractor-trailer had come over the divider and tore through Callie’s jeep like a warm knife through butter. Blake was at home painting when the state trooper called. She had died only two miles from their home. He had gotten there in record time. But he was too late to do anything, even to say goodbye. He was supposed to have met her for dinner but he’d gotten wrapped up in his latest piece and forgotten the time. She had given up on waiting for him at the restaurant and was on her way home to him, take-out containers from the restaurant on the back seat. Instead of safely enjoying a romantic dinner in her favorite little Italian place, his beautiful Callie had died alone on a dark highway surrounded by the remains of fettuccine Alfredo. The authorities said no one was at fault – the truck driver had had a stroke.

But Blake knew who was to blame.

Ari’s head popped up from where she was sleeping on top of his feet. Her small ears pointed and her small tail quivered. A moment later, Blake heard the rattle of the truck that alerted the poodle. He walked to the door and leaned against the frame as Storm parked the battered pick-up. It was as if by drawing her he’d called her to him.

He watched as she climbed down and marched to his door. She held out her hands like she had when she’d wanted him to hand her Ari. He wondered if this time she was inviting an embrace, as the dog no longer needed tending.

"Care to explain how you healed the cuts on my hands?”

 

Read Chapter 6 ->

 

Pick a Chapter:

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7


♥  ♥  ♥  ♥
  
Visit each listed A Year in Love Blog Hop participating author to read a sexy excerpt from one of their Crimson Romance titles!  

Denyse Cohen | Amber T Smith | Peggy Bird | Pam B. Morris | Lola Karns | Becky Flade | Irene Preston | Liv Rancourt | Becky Lower | Morgan O'Neill | L ynn Cahoon | Leslie P. Garcia | Lynn Crandall | Andrea R. Cooper | Sharon Clare | Juli Page Morgan | Melinda Dozier | Nancy C. Weeks | Katie Kenyhercz | Nancy Loyan | Danica Winters | Barbara Barrett | Carol Ritten Smith | Amanda L. V. Shalaby
 
We’ll have a Blog Hopping Blast together!
 
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
 
And now - an excerpt from my Crimson Romance title 
Fated Souls
 

“You know something? I can’t remember the last time someone held my hand.” Maggie hadn’t realized she still had his hand gripped in hers and tried to release it. He held on tighter. “I like it.”

He rubbed his thumb against the pulse point in her wrist and Maggie felt it trip before racing. Raising their linked hands out of the frothing water, his gaze locked to hers, he lifted her wrist to his mouth and gently kissed the battering pulse. Maggie shivered despite the heat of the water swirling around them. She saw Aidan’s gaze flicker over her and she knew he’d noticed her flushed cheeks. His eyes lifted again, and she saw that the heat and the hunger had returned. They’d smoldered before, now they blazed. Maggie continued to shiver, in both anticipation and apprehension. What was happening between them, somehow she knew, was going to change everything. Change her.

He pulled her a little closer as he put his lips on the inside of her elbow. Maggie’s free hand came up to rest on his chest; she could feel his heart beating under her palm, the pace as fevered as her own. She moved slowly, inching closer as his mouth moved further up her arm. When they were face to face, he dipped his head low, his eyes hooded but locked on hers. Aidan’s lips hovered very close to hers; she could taste his breath, sweetened from the mimosa, on her tongue and her mouth watered. He brushed his lips gently against hers, barely touching flesh to flesh. Maggie whimpered softly as desire coiled in a painful knot low in her stomach.

 

The sound broke Aidan’s restraint and on a groan, his mouth crushed down on hers. The kiss was savage and possessing; it took Maggie’s breath away. She met the thrust of his tongue with her own, his seeking, hers soothing. He’d released his hold on her hand and both his were on her, one in her hair and the other splayed across the small of her back. His strong fingers were flexing, squeezing, and releasing, pulling her closer and closer. He growled fiercely and nipped her full lower lip with his teeth. He suddenly pulled away from her.

 

Maggie realized why now. He was afraid of himself and the wolf within, not me, she silently concluded.

 

Well the hell with that.

 

 ♥  ♥  ♥  ♥

 

Wishing you the best in life and in love!   

 

23 comments:

  1. Love the description "Cheri Long's acid brand of charm."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lola! Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway. Happy Hopping!

      Delete
  2. Oh, my {fan's self} - Aidan sounds hot. We must do something about that silly restraint he's showing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll put it this way - Maggie is very determined. ;)

      Delete
  3. I'm glad to hear Maggie's determined, because the hell with that indeed! :) And Chapter 5 of the short story? LOVE!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Put simply:
    Excerpt -- Hot and intriguing! Loved it.

    Round Robin -- Whoa. Wonderfully written.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed them Lynn! Have a lovely weekend.

      Delete
  5. Fated Souls sounds fantastic. I so enjoyed the excerpt and would love a chance to read it. Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you then - good luck!

      Delete
    2. Congratulations! You're the lucky winner of a copy of Fated Souls! Contact me at beckyfladeauthor@gmail.com at your earliest convenience. Thanks again for participating in the Year in Love Blog Hop

      Delete
  6. Nice excerpt

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  7. You go girl - excellent round robin chapter that you wrote. But I'm not surprised as Fated Souls was so good. Any chance of a sequel? ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have had a few requests for a sequel and I won't lie I've been toying with a couple ideas....

      Delete
  8. Congratulations! I'd love to win a copy..fingers crossed! ava_ann2001@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. There's a reason Aidan wins the showdown every week. That excerpt is hot!
    (and your RR chapter was fun, too)
    ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I figured it was all the steamy pictures, ;)
      Thanks Liv

      Delete
  10. WOW, Becky,
    Amazing chapter! I love this story. You guys need to publish this sucker!!! OH...and Liv, Adian wins because he just hot. Period. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nancy thanks, you are too sweet. I do adore my Aidan. ;)

      Delete
  11. Congratulations to VeronikaDream and Kathleen D. winners of the Year in Love Blog Hop rafflecopter giveaways!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Congratulations to LadyVampire2u! She has won a copy of Fated Souls!

    ReplyDelete