Book Title: Molly's Misadventures
Author: DE Haggerty
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: January 11, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
I’m having the suckiest day ever. First, my father, aka Mr. Grumpy Pants, calls to say his nurse just walked out on him. Likely story. I rush home to pack only to walk in on my husband getting it on with his younger, skanky secretary. Unfortunately, my quick weekend trip home to fix Dad’s problems turns into a stay of a few weeks. Luckily, I’ve got Danny, the neighbor boy I had a crush on when I was a dorky, braces-wearing, nose-buried-in-a-book teenager, and a brand-spanking new blog to keep my mind off things. Before I know it, I’m writing product reviews of vibrators and getting questioned by a store rent-a-cop at the world’s worst date ever. All while trying to figure out how to take things with Danny to the next level. Not to complicate things or anything but my boss decides to give me an ultimatum – come back in four weeks or don’t come back at all. How in the world did my life get so complicated?
A Coffee Date with the Police
Posted by: Molly Smith at 4:00 p.m.
Okay, I admit. I assumed my first ‘real’ date in over a decade would be a disaster of epic proportion. I never thought—in my wildest dreams—that the next date would be even worse than that. What’s worse than epic? I have no words. Let me know in the comments if you think of a (mis)nomer that works.
Let’s back up a bit, shall we? Just how did Molly end up on another date after the ambush date? I call it temporary insanity. I let my best friend talk me into signing up for a dating website. I must have been completely out of my mind because I also agreed to go on two dates a week. Not enough craziness? I also agreed to blog about these dates. What have I gotten myself into?
Considering the ambush dinner date of last week, I decided to go for a coffee date with Harry. Not his real name, obviously. I’ve decided to use aliases for all of my dates that start with the letter ‘H’. I once had a friend who named all her children with names that start with a ‘D’. I always did love alliteration, so I’m totally copying her on that one.
So, anyway, my coffee date with Harry. I suggested we meet up in the coffee shop located in a bookstore. It’s a new bookstore I haven’t had time to explore yet. I figured if the date was a dud, I could always do some book shopping because everyone knows you can never have too many books.
The date started out really well. I had mentioned my addiction to lattes when chatting with Harry. When I arrived at the bookstore, there he sat with a fresh latte waiting for me. I’m not going to describe Harry’s physical characteristics because that makes me sound shallow. And now you all think he’s fugly. Well, he’s not. At least not on the outside. Wait until you finish reading to decide on the rest.
We drank our coffees and chatted for about fifteen minutes. Harry was funny with that dry humor that I love so much. My stomach rumbled after a while, and Harry suggested we head to the diner down the street for lunch. I thought it sounded like a great idea and readily agreed.
I should have realized something was off when he then hurried out of the store without waiting for me. I wasn’t expecting him to hold my hand or anything, but he could have walked out the door with me. Well, let me tell you, there’s a very good reason he took off like a rabbit in heat.
I walked through the exit and the security gates started to beep and the lights twinkle. I didn’t think anything of it. I’ve had plenty of security alarms go off by accident before. Being the good citizen I am, I immediately stopped and turned to the security guard rushing towards me.
He grabbed my bag and opened it. To my great surprise, he pulled out the book: Kama Sutra for Beginners. OMG! I don’t think I’ve ever been so embarrassed in my life. I made the incredibly stupid comment: “How did that get in there?” The security guard just looked at me and raised an eyebrow. Yeah, he’s probably heard that one before.
It didn’t take but a second for me to realize that there was only one way that the book got in my bag—Harry, Mr. Not-So-Nice-After-All. I immediately started to lie out of my ass. “Oops!” I may have even done a giggle at this point. “I must have forgotten to pay for that. Shall I just get in line over there?”
Nice try, Molly. The security guard shook his head at me and told me to follow him. He took me straight to the front of the line—because getting caught stealing the Kama Sutra wasn’t bad enough, I also had to piss off all the people waiting in line. But then he decides to find his voice, and he booms loud enough for the whole store to hear: “Caught this lady trying to steal the Kama Sutra.”
I tried to use my nonexistent magical powers to teleport out of the store, but, like I said, my magical abilities are nonexistent. So I just stood there, turning so red my face could have probably lit up the store. I quickly paid for the book and got the hell out of there—escorted by the security guard, of course. I didn’t even bother to see if Harry was at the diner. I was afraid of what I’d do to the thief if I saw him in person. I rushed home and thanked the goddess that I’ve started stocking my bedroom with wine.
Whose idea was it for me to get back in the dating game, again?
Teasers provided by DE Haggerty
Book Title: Progress
Author: Amalie Silver
Genre:New Adult/Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 15, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
I admit, I didn’t think much of Charlie at first. She was rounder than the girls who usually caught my eye. Not my type. But when I saw her sitting in that booth alone, for the first time something in my mind or my instincts or my heart told me to join her.
She defied me.
She challenged me.
She gave me hope.
Before I knew it, moving forward was my only option.
I couldn’t tell you when it happened, but it had to have been a gradual change; I never moved too quickly.
If someone would have told me earlier that year what I was going to go through, I wouldn't have believed them.
Jesse was so different from anyone I’d met before. And everyone I’ve met since. He sucked all the life out of me, in the best—and worst—ways.
We don’t get strong overnight. For most of us it takes time. Strength isn’t measured by how high and fast our walls go up, but how easily we can watch them fall.
Warning: This book contains material that might be a trigger for some readers. Abuse and rape are implied, but not described in detail. Discretion is advised.
“Is this why you are what you are?” she asked innocently, but I heard the threat behind it.
“What am I?” My irritation rising, I spoke loudly. “Am I a monster? Is that what you see?”
Please don’t do this.
There were a lot of things, despite my desire for her to know, she had no business asking. Dragging Charlie through my past wasn’t something I had any intentions of allowing.
“You’re my friend. And these are things I should know about you,” she said.
I licked my lips, feeling the adrenaline spike through my veins. My knee bounced, my head shook on its own accord, and my throat was dry. “Then maybe we shouldn’t be friends. If this is the shit you think you need to know, then I’ve got nothing to offer you. So just go back to your little world where you eat your ice cream at ?xml:namespace prefix = "st1" /midnight and stroke your clit over the thought of a man who will never actually have a shot at getting you off.” My voice was shaky. But I hoped to God she didn’t notice.
Her shoulders dropped and her mouth flew open. “You’re such an asshole.”
“Get used to it, sweetheart. The world is full of them.”
“Maybe, but you’re one of the worst I’ve ever met.”
“That’s a lie. I say what everyone is thinking but are too afraid of the consequences of saying it out loud,” I said.
“You know what I think? I think you thrive on being miserable. Maybe if you stopped ignoring all the shit from your past by drinking and smoking your life away, you might actually have a shot at being a relatively normal human being!” she cried.
I laughed, throwing my head back. When I returned my stare to hers, I added, “And maybe if you started forgetting a little about your past, you’d start living some semblance of a life. Get over it, Charlie. The world doesn’t owe you anything, and you aren’t entitled to shit.”
“That’s where you’re wrong.” She rose from the seat and gathered her notebook, glasses, and purse. “I’m entitled to walking out of this restaurant and never speaking to you again. You can be a miserable piece of shit when you want to be.”
“Oh, you’re going to play mad? You’re going to pretend that I’m a douchebag for telling you the truth? Go ahead.” I waved my hand, taking a sip of my beer. “Until tomorrow when you realize that just because I pissed you off doesn’t mean I wasn’t right.” I lifted an eyebrow.
She threw the strap of her purse over her shoulder and laughed nervously. “I’ll tell you one other thing I’m entitled to: being happy. And if you have nothing to offer in that department, just watch how long I can play mad, motherfucker.” -Jesse, Progress
Amalie Silver resides in Minnesota with her husband, two toddlers, and German Short-haired Pointer, Saba. She consumes approximately three pots of coffee a day, and credits this for her survival over the past decade.
When not completely consumed in her writing, she can be found taking road trips to northern Minnesota, engaging in fierce Scrabble games, or reading a good book. She’s a sucker for all romance genres, literary fiction, and psychological fiction.
Book Title: For the First Time (Brand New Stories of First Love)
Author: Various Authors
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: January 12, 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
You never forget your first time...
A brand new anthology of original, never-before-read stories from today's hottest authors, including:
Alessandra Torre, Kim Karr, Jen Frederick, Alexa Riley, Lynda Chance, Sarah Castille, Nina Lane, CJ Roberts, Anna Zaires, Nikki Sloane, Cynthia Sax, Avery Aster, Pam Godwin, Skye Warren, Julia Sykes, Cynthia Rayne, Jenika Snow, Debra Presley, Shoshanna Evers, Tamsen Parker, and Nina Levine!
From young heartbreak to a virginity auction, from the chance meeting to the happily ever after, twenty-one exclusive stories explore first love in all its forms. This set includes almost 200,000 words of steamy encounters and sweet romance.
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Book Title: Shattered Perfection
Author: Heather R. Guimond
Genre:Contemporary Romance/Women's Fiction
Release Date:August 30, 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
Mimi Bishop found the man of her dreams when she met Vance Ashcroft in a chance encounter. During their whirlwind courtship, they learn they share a sparkling and dynamic chemistry, filled with humor, happiness and steamy sensuality. Their relationship is effortless and blossoms into a passionate love. Soon Mimi is living her happily ever after with Vance as his wife until his behavior mysteriously begins to change.
Vance grows cold, then hostile, finally becoming violent one fateful night. Her perfect life and heart shattered, Mimi attempts to move on to a life without Vance. Powerful memories of their love haunt her, making it almost impossible to heal and become whole again. Just when Mimi thinks she can finally put the past behind her, she learns a devastating secret about Vance that threatens to shatter her forever.
I wince as I watch the gravy drip down the stark white wall and leak between it and the baseboard, before pooling onto the floor while Vance rants and raves about how inedible my cooking is.
“All this time and you still haven’t learned to serve anything at the proper temperature. Your potatoes are lumpy and the broccoli tastes like it was steamed with a sweaty gym sock,” he sneers. “I don’t know why I continue to put up with you. Everything about you is inferior. The way you dress, the way you behave…you’re a total bitch to my coworkers and friends…hell Mimi, even the way you fuck. You're absolutely worthless.”
I sit there calmly, listening to words I have heard dozens, maybe hundreds of times before.
“What are you waiting for?” he asks in a mocking tone, that infuriating smirk on his handsome face.
“Go on, clean up this mess.”
I take a few seconds to indulge in the fantasy of grabbing him by his wavy dark hair and driving my index and middle fingers into his piercing blue eyes. It’s gruesome, I know. However, I’ve spent the last six months of our year and half marriage enduring scenes like this. I think anyone would be driven to graphic, if not homicidal, imaginings by now. I know it’s crazy to put up with the abuse, but there are a couple of reasons why I do. First, he wasn’t always like this. He used to be attentive and caring. He was kind, loving and generous. He is intelligent, has always had a playful sense of humor that never failed to make me laugh before, and we almost never disagreed. Until recently, I still saw snippets of that man. The second, I suppose, is my pride. I married Vance only a few short months after meeting him in a chance encounter at Los Angeles International Airport. We had an intense, passionate love affair, both of us falling head over heels from almost the moment we met. Logic told me not to rush headlong into things, to back off and take my time getting to know him before making such a serious commitment, but he was the one. I don’t want to admit to myself that I was wrong.
Sighing, I rise and move to the closet by the sink and grab the mop and the dustpan.
“No. I want you down on your hands and knees with a sponge, like the dog that you are,” he spits out.
I can't take anymore. The anger flares inside me, rising like a tsunami of venom. Months and months of suppressed emotion bubbles up and out of me, seemingly spilling onto the tile floor, splashing over every surface of the room and coating us in its hatred.
“I am not a dog, you vicious mother fucker. Nor am I lazy, stupid, or worthless. You have been right about one thing recently, though. I am a real bitch.” Lost to the emotions flooding my system, I grab a glass from the drain board on the counter and pitch it at his head. He swiftly dodges it, lunges out of his chair and is on me in an instant. The breath rushes out of my lungs as my back hits the floor and stars burst behind my eyes as my head slams against the tile. His hand presses against the base of my throat and he squeezes tightly.
“Do you think you can smart mouth me, Mimi? Throw things at me? You must have lost your mind. I should kill you for this.” His grip tightens, causing my vision to dim around the edges. For the first time, I am genuinely afraid. I clutch at his wrist, my nails scratching futilely at the skin. I writhe beneath his heavy body, my legs trying to find purchase on the slick tile floor, but his weight keeps me pinned.
Suddenly, he releases my neck and I gasp in heavy gulps of air. His hand twists into my blonde hair, wrapping it around his fist and tugging my head to the side. He buries his face into my neck and bites down hard. I cry out at the sharp pain as his other hand grabs ahold of the collar of my blouse and rips it down the front. I pummel his shoulders and back with my fists, trying to get him to stop, but he is completely out of his mind. He raises up off me slightly and reaches for the front of my pants, tearing those wide open too. In desperation, I drive the tips of my long fingernails into his ear canals.
His full weight crushes me as he drops down, gasping in pain or surprise, I’m not sure which. His breaths come fast and hard, but he is no longer savagely pawing at me. He inhales deeply and rolls off, sprawling out on the hard floor, his arms and legs splayed wide. I curl away from him into the fetal position, my body shaking from the adrenaline pumping through my veins. We lay like that for five, ten minutes, an hour. I don’t really know. Eventually, my trembling subsides, but I’m afraid to move. Vance finally stands and nudges me with his foot.
“Clean this room up.” He says quietly, before exiting the room on soft feet.
Once I know he is in the back of the house and well away from me, I rise and test my muscles. I’m bruised in spots, there is a knot at the back of my head, and I know I will most likely be sore as hell tomorrow morning. Given the gravity of the situation, things could have turned out a lot worse.
I walk through the kitchen to the adjoining laundry room and sort through the basket of clean clothes I have not yet taken to the bedroom. It’s a stroke of good luck, under the circumstances. I quickly shed my ruined clothing and don a pair of leggings and a sweatshirt from the load that I folded earlier in the day. I find a pair of flip flops by the back door and slip them on. Traveling back into the kitchen, I grab the mop and dustpan once again and head to the sink.
I fill the sink with warm water and absently watch the bubbles form after I add a few squirts of dish detergent. I look down at my unsteady hands, wringing them together in an effort to still them. I know I provoked him, but Vance has never been violent before. I don’t even want to think about where he was headed before I was able to stop him. What if I hadn’t? What if…what if…what if… It doesn’t bear thinking about.
I can’t stay any longer. Suffering the verbal abuse was enough to make any sane person leave long before now. I know I shouldn’t have tolerated it for as long as I have already, but there is no way to delude myself into believing there is a reason to endure physical confrontations between us. Physical abuse, possibly attempted rape, and death threats? Even my love and pride can’t overcome those things.
I set about mopping up the now congealed gravy, chicken and other detritus from my failed meal and push it into the dustpan. I dump it into the garbage can, along with the cold contents of my plate. I rinse out the mop, drain the sink and scour it out well, all the while making a plan to start a new life. Sure, I had considered leaving him before. I’d be lying if I said I’d never thought about it, but I’d always somehow convinced myself that the good outweighed the bad, or that things would magically get better.
Assuming that were even possible, I can't stick around and wait for it to happen now.
First things first. I need a place to go. A hotel would do fine for a couple days, but I'm going to need an apartment. I have a good job as a corporate paralegal, but Vance’s salary from his work as a mergers and acquisitions attorney paid all our bills. I don’t have a realistic perspective as to how far my wages will go to support me in Los Angeles anymore. I had done fairly well before I married Vance, so I suppose I shouldn’t worry too much. It would only mean saying goodbye to our charming bungalow in the Fairfax District, a quiet enclave flanked by West Hollywood, the Miracle Mile and Beverly Grove. It was Vance's house, where he had lived before I met him. Prior to our marriage, I had been living in a small studio apartment in the San Fernando Valley. I wasn’t much of a social climber or status whore, so this would be no great loss to me. I didn’t have a problem doing a little extra driving to my job downtown again.
As I finish cleaning up the kitchen, I make a list in my head of things I need to do the following day. I plan to call work and take a week off. I have plenty of time off stored up, so even though it is short notice, it shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll pack up my clothes after Vance has gone to work and find a hotel over the hill to stay for a few days. I could go to my friend Grace’s house. I’m sure she’d let me stay in her spare bedroom, but I know Vance will come looking for me and that’s the first place he’ll go. I don’t want to involve her in this mess any more than crying on her shoulder, if I can help it.
After I get settled, I’ll start my search for an apartment. No, wait. I have to apply for a restraining order. As I realize this, that's when the night's events truly hit me. He attacked me. He bit me, he choked me and it seemed like he was getting ready to rape me. This man, the man who once swept me away on a wave of passion and overwhelming love, threatened to end my life tonight. My chest expands and contracts involuntarily, forcing a heavy sob out of my throat. I hang my head and cry tears I have not allowed myself in all this time. I cry for all the suffering I have refused to acknowledge, for all the humiliation I have endured through his words, but mostly for the death of my love for him. I know all this must make him seem like a monster but it wasn’t always this way.
Heather R. Guimond has been writing short stories for fun and entertainment since her teen years, but Shattered Perfection is her debut novel. She is a self-professed bibliophile, with a Kindle library larger than her wardrobe has ever been (and that’s saying something). She is notorious insomniac with a well-known coffee addiction.
She resides in a small enclave just north of Los Angeles with her husband, aunt, 3 children, and their cat, Syndi (with whom she has a tenuous relationship).
Book Title: Change in the Light
Author: Tami Lund
Release Date: January 4, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
In the fourth installment of the Lightbearer series, we shift to Detroit, where pack master Josh Tigre is obligated to take a mate and produce offspring to carry on his family line. Problem is, the woman he falls for is human. According to the rules of the pack, he can never tell her about his true nature, which means at some point, he has to give her up.Rachel Whitaker is a human woman trying to survive in a world in which it seems the cards are always stacked against her. When she’s forced to seduce Josh in exchange for her own life, the task is no hardship—until she falls for the one she is supposed to help destroy. Rachel decides to fight back against the man manipulating her life, starting in motion a chain of events that adversely affect two worlds—and she doesn’t even know it.
Rachel doubted very much he was literally heading toward her, but she figured this was as perfect a chance as she was going to get to meet the guy.
She released her hold on the bar and smoothed the front of her satiny dress. And then she watched as his gaze caught hers and held, until he stood directly in front of her. Clearly, he had been literally heading in her direction.
“Hello,” he said, his deep voice slightly rough, like sandpaper. Her thoughts immediately shifted to silk sheets and baby oil. So far, this whole sleep-with-a-stranger gig wasn’t turning out half bad. Not bad at all, in fact.
“I’m Joshua Tigre. Josh.”
“Hi Josh. I’m Rachel.” She offered her hand and he enveloped it in his far larger and warmer one. She spared a moment to pray he never let it go.
“I hope the prank didn’t frighten you too much.”
Prank? She racked her brain, trying to figure out what the hell he was talking about. All she could focus on was the warmth of his hand and the impressive width of his shoulders. And his smile.And his eyes. And...
“The panther,” he went on to explain. “I told him not to do it. I told him this wasn’t the place.” He shook his head, looking exasperated. “My cousin never listens to reason.”
“Your—your cousin?” She was clearly missing something.
Josh nodded, looking solemn, although there was a definite gleam in his dark eyes. “Matt. He knows better. Unfortunately, he has a tendency to react first and think later. Or not at all.” The solemn look switched to annoyed, before he wiped it clean and offered her a dazzling smile. “Like I said, a prank. Harmless.”
“O-okay.” He sure seemed hell bent on convincing her she shouldn’t be frightened. In truth, once the panther had passed without so much as glancing her way, she’d been more fascinated than scared.
Josh’s gaze locked onto her for several breathless seconds. He scanned her, from the top of her red hair to the tips of her too-high heels, and then he abruptly shifted his gaze away and looked at the crowd.
“Maybe I should escort you to your car?” he suggested. Unless she was mistaken, he was trying to get rid of her. She wondered why.
“I—I didn’t drive.” The memory of a week ago, when she’d been tied to a chair in a hotel room and threatened with death, reminded her that this was what she wanted. She needed Josh Tigre to take her home tonight. She deliberately ignored that part of her brain that was actually excited over the prospect.
Okay, no she didn’t. In fact, she allowed that part of her brain to have free rein.
His gaze sharpened. “Do you need a ride?”
She batted her eyelashes. Rachel had been blessed with her mother’s milky complexion, gorgeous red hair, and strategic curves. Looks her mother had wasted on drugs and the sleazy losers who dealt them. Rachel preferred to waste hers on sexy men in gray suits who rushed across a crowded ballroom to convince her not to worry about the fact that a live panther had just strutted through the vicinity.
“That would be wonderful,” she said, her voice practically a purr. She watched as he scoped out the room again. A man stepped through the door where the panther had disappeared a short time earlier. He vaguely resembled Josh. Rachel wondered if this was the cousin who never listened. When his gaze zoned in on them, Josh sharply shook his head. The man paused, a frown creasing his brow.
“Let’s go. I’ll take you home.”
“What?” It couldn’t possibly be this easy—could it?
“You just said you needed a ride.” He sounded confused. Rachel caught herself before she blew her opportunity. She wasn’t used to anything working quite so readily in her favor. Even when she used guys for her own means, it wasn’t usually this easy.
“Right. Of course. I’d appreciate it. Thank you.” Now she sounded overly grateful.
Taking a deep breath, she opened her mouth to backtrack, but Josh beat her to the punch. “Great. Let’s go.” He slipped his arm around her waist and for a moment, she was certain she forgot to breathe. She certainly forgot how to walk, as was evident when he put pressure on her back and then paused, a question in his eyes.
“Sorry. The shoes. I’m not very good with the heels.”
He glanced down and she lifted her skirt enough for him to admire the six-inch gold heels. When he lifted his gaze back to her face, she could have sworn his eyes were glowing.
Holy shit, it really is going to be this easy.
Those happily ever afters come in contemporary and paranormal. She's got something for everyone. You should check out her website. Rumor has it there's a free read.
Book Title:A Second Daniel
Release Date:September 29th, 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
London 1558. An orphan from a far-off land is renamed “Noah Ames,” and given every advantage the English Crown can bestow.
London 1592. Now an experienced barrister, Noah witnesses what appears to be a botched robbery outside the Rose Theater, a crime he soon suspects to be part of a plot against Queen Elizabeth herself. Steadfast in his loyalty to the Queen, Noah must use every bit of his knowledge and skill to lure her most disloyal subject onto the only battlefield where Noah has the advantage ... a court of law – though in doing so he risks public exposure of his darkest secret, a secret so shocking that its revelation could cost him everything: the love of the only woman who can offer him happiness, his livelihood ... even his life.
Neal Roberts and his wife live on Long Island, New York, where they have two grown children. Neal is a practicing attorney and adjunct law professor, and spends as much time as possible researching his next novel while enhancing his lawyer's pallor. When he's not writing Elizabethan politico-legal novels, practicing law, or teaching, he's an editor of an international peer-reviewed publication in the field of intellectual property law. Neal is also an avid student of Elizabethan literature and politics, which subjects form the basis of his first novel, A Second Daniel. His analysis of Shakespeare's Sonnet 121 has been extensively cited by some of the most important authorities seeking to identify the true author of the poems and plays attributed to William Shakespeare.
Learn more about Neal or download your free short by visiting authornealroberts.com.
Book Title:Behind Her Smile
Release Date: January 6, 2016
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions
David and Karolina Morgan have the perfect marriage. He runs a financial empire catering to Miami's most influential and she is the darling socialite, adored by her husband and all those that meet her.
But underneath the lavish home, expensive car and exquisite jewelry lies a darkness threatening to consume Karolina. The once vivacious fashion design student has become a shadow of herself at the hands of her manipulative husband.
Then, with the flick of a power switch, everything changes. Karolina must learn to fight back when she discovers her entire existence is one big sham, with dire consequences.
Tutu. Baby’s Breath. Angelic Musings. Three very different names describing the same thing: a delicate pink varnish that covers my fingernails. Every Monday I have a standing manicure appointment at Breeze. The manicurist, Meryl, and I play the same game. Perched on a black stool, Meryl clucks over my cuticles and then asks, “How about red today? Goes well with your skin tone.” Pretending to ponder Meryl’s suggestion, I gently retract my hands to tug off my engagement ring and wedding band. “Red would match with a gown I’m wearing to a gala next week, maybe we’ll try it then.” But I never switch my request. Pale, newborn baby girl pink adorns my fingernails week in and week out.
Just once I’d like to try something brash like fire-engine or tangerine. However I’ve learned those colors are garish and considered inappropriate by reigning queens of Miami high society. Heaven forbid I make waves.
With a flick or his elegant wrist, David fills the cabin the luxury sedan with the classical music he prefers. Not a single strand of his hair falls out of place. The crisp corners of his heavily starched white shirt peek out from the edge of a black tuxedo jacket sleeve. David’s initials, DM, are stitched on the French cuffs, parallel to the cufflinks he purchased on a trip to the South of France. Every angle on David seems to be chiseled from the image of wealth and sophistication: classic bow-shaped mouth, straight, high-bridged nose and thick lashes framing his ocean eyes. There are no visible imperfections in his appearance. But I know a secret. If it weren’t for the colorist who visits our home each month, flecks of gray would show at David’s temples.
“That dress you’re wearing was quite the sensation.” The aristocratic timbre of his voice works well in seducing potential clients. David Morgan is the driving force being Morgan Financial, a financial planning service catering to Miami’s elite. In a way, the smoothness in David’s voice was one of the first things that drew me to him, too.
David knows exactly how to charm his prey. Complimenting one of my original designs is my biggest weakness. Under his praise, my shoulders straighten. Despite everything, I still blossom under a compliment from David.
All my life I wanted to create beautiful garments. Worked tirelessly in high school to get good grades and earn a scholarship to college. Slung burgers at a fast food restaurant for extra money. Then I got my prize: a partial scholarship to study fashion at the Miami Design Institute. Finally, I went after my dream of becoming the next Coco Chanel.
Life has a heartbreaking way of uprooting dreams, though.
Instead of producing fashion for Bryant Park in New York City, I’ve been relegated to a studio in my home. It’s not so bad, designing for myself. There’s no pressure to please anyone other than my own critical eye. Although my designs aren’t known on the national level, I am able to showcase some of my wears at society events. This evening I’m wearing a gown that took me a month to create – after the initial conception. Silk. Deep plum twisted bodice and a slit in the A-line skirt to allow a large enough range of motion for dancing. It elongates my lean form, displays feminine curves without being overtly seductive.
“Adriana Martinez would like to commission a gown for an inaugural ball,” I murmur. Like my husband, I’ve trained my voice to be gentle, never jarring.
David’s carefully styled eyebrows lift a centimeter – the barest hint of surprise. Adriana is married to Hector Martinez, the king of a real estate empire stretching from Key West to West Palm Beach County. Along with his wife, Hector can be found at every charity gala, important political function and any other events deemed important by Miami society. Now that the former governor of Florida was elected President of the United States, the financially influential Martinez couple will make their move toward Washington, DC. They were big donors to the president-elect’s campaign. Seven figure donors. Adriana wearing one of my original designs to an inaugural event could be a huge coup for what David calls my little hobby.
“Is that so,” David drawls.
“Adriana will be photographed for magazines and blogs. The exposure could do well for Morgan Financial.” Bravely I lift my gaze to David who stares at me impassively. His emotions are getting harder and harder to read with age.
“Hm. Morgan Financial would be a secondary beneficiary. Your design would be the shining star.” David shifts smoothly in the cream leather seat, now one eyebrow cocked in my direction. My heart thuds in my chest. Is he angry because, for once, a sliver of the spotlight may shine on me? “No matter. Let’s see if you can get yourself invited over to the Martinez compound. You’ll present the idea of a couples dinner at our home.”
“Certainly,” I agree. David doesn’t have to convince me on this point. Adriana is one of the most tolerable people David strongly encourages me to engage with socially.
David’s expression doesn’t betray any underlying irritation that Adriana may garner interest in my work. The tension in my chest abates and I sink further into my seat, good posture be damned. David reaches across the armrest dividing the backseat of the car, places a hand on my forearm. “Soon you’ll be receiving requests from all over South Florida. My wife, the fashion designer.” His lips flicker upward as though the prospect amuses him. “I support it, so long as your career doesn’t eclipse the time we spend together.”
“No, of course not.”
The diamond tennis bracelet clasped around my wrist pinches my skin, drawing my attention to the glimmering jewelry. David slips two fingers between my skin and the stones, stroking the delicate skin there.
“Do you remember when I gave this to you?” He asks huskily.
“How could I forget?” With my free hand, I finagle David’s hand to clasp our fingers together.
“Remind me,” he teases.
“It was right before we were married. You had the wedding planner deliver it to the bridal suite with a note.” Briefly, my eyes shut as I remember the emotions of our wedding day five years ago. Heady anticipation coursed through my veins that day. Never in my life had I known that type of excitement. I blink my eyes open and find David watching me raptly. A stoic mask conceals whatever he remembers of our wedding. Forcing myself to smile, I tug his hand to my chest where my heart rate has slowed to a gentle cadence.
“At the time, this bracelet was the most magnificent gift I had ever received. You’ve managed to outdo yourself dozens of times over.” I allow my expression to soften. “No one spoils me like you do, David.”
A cloud of Armani cologne wafts around me as David leans closer. He releases my hand, only to drag his fingertips along my cheek. David presses his warm lips against mine in a short kiss. “You’re the one who spoils me,” he croons.
It happens when David shifts back into his corner of the car, so quickly I’m sure he doesn’t think I notice. But I see it. David’s eyes flicker to the driver, making sure that he’s watching the show. If I’ve learned anything in the five years I’ve been married to David Morgan, it’s that appearances are of the utmost importance.
Olivia Luck calls Chicago home. She loves traveling with her husband, baking for her parents, and taking walks with her dog. Olivia started writing when she was eight and paused to dabble in various other pursuits like dance and piano. In the end, she always came back to her pen and notebook.
Get in touch with Olivia, she adores emails: firstname.lastname@example.org