“Are you okay? You look a little pale?”
“It’s nothing. I’m...I’m fine.” The sob burst out from its confines. “No. No I’m not.” Hot tears scalded her eyes before spilling down her cheeks. “I should be though, shouldn’t I? I’m on my honeymoon.”
Written in Stone
RELEASED TODAY! Buy here.
Dumped five days before her wedding, Cassandra Hall decides not to waste the honeymoon.
She sets off to London. What was supposed to be her dream week turns into a nightmare time of introspect, self-doubt. Then she meets James, literally falling at his feet in an attempt to save his Afghan hound from colliding head on with the traffic.
James is witty, charming, too good-looking and also—not available. Despite this, Cassie is captivated by him. What follows is a week of fun, companionship and a bonding Cassie has never experienced.
James, sensing Cassie’s unhappiness, goes out of his way to make up for her jerk of a fiancι’s rejection. He is drawn to her vulnerability—something he finds disturbing, threatening to shatter all he thought he knew about himself. Cassie, he senses, is falling in love with him. He ought to back away but cannot. Cassie bravely makes her true feelings known and when he rejects her, he knows he has broken her heart. He is left confused, guilty because…James has a secret.
So here is a new excerpt for you, to celebrate the release day:
The man standing in front of the reception desk bore little resemblance to the hero of yesterday’s little saga. For one he was dressed and very coolly at that. Black jeans hugged lean thighs while the chest she remembered as hard and smooth against her cheek peeked out from a crisp pale blue shirt. The dark navy velvet jacket slung casually over his shoulder picked out the deep hue of his eyes. Cassie’s pulse speeded up a notch. Those eyes probed and searched, causing her cheeks to flame and most definitely clash with her hair. Hard experience told her that; redheads didn’t fare well when blushing. The tousled ebony mop was now tamed, making him appear younger than she’d first imagined. He was cute and she was insane!
His muted greeting caressed her ear, a gentle refrain against the background of distant London traffic.
“Hello.” Hands clasped behind her back, she felt about five, gauche and inadequate. “I didn’t recognize you with your clothes on.” As soon as the words tripped from her dry lips, she wanted to die. What an infantile comment! A discreet titter from behind told her the receptionist concurred.
Mr. Mcwhatever merely grinned, parting full lips and making her want to kiss him. Goodness but she seemed to be getting over Martin fast.
“Here.” He produced a small bunch of primroses behind his back. “From Madonna...to say thank you.”
Cassie stared at his outstretched hand, heart palpitating. It wasn’t as if she’d never received flowers. Throughout their time together, Martin had showered her with so many exotic blooms she could have opened her own nursery. But his bouquets were always flamboyant while this modest posy of butter yellow...well it touched her.
“Thank you. You needn’t...I mean Madonna shouldn’t have.” She bit her lip. Now she sounded ungracious.
Full lips curved in an easy smile, morphing him from cute and safe to sexy.
“I lied. They’re from me. Madonna spent all her pocket money.”
Cassie swallowed back a bubble of mirth. He was funny. Pressing the flowers into her hand, his fingers curled around her wrist, the light pressure of the tips causing sparks to shoot up her arm.
“If anything had happened to that mutt, my sister would have had my balls for breakfast.”
This time a giggle did escape. Delivered in his smooth melodious tone, the crude words sounded alien on his lips.
“Oh…and here.” He bent to retrieve a plastic bag clutched between his ankles. “Your coat. I took it to the dry cleaners the same time I took Madonna.”
“You took a dog to the cleaners?” Cassie stared blankly.
His shoulders came up and he lowered his head but not before she saw cool laughter dance in his eyes. It was infectious laughter, almost a giggle. Captivating. He was captivating.
“Cute! Forgive me for being inarticulate. Jet lag, you see. No, I meant I dragged her sorry ass to an extortionate doggy stylist. A hundred quid, three bottles of Pantene shampoo later and she’s good as new.”
“Oh!” Cassie was intrigued, not only by his account but also by his accent. Yesterday she would have pegged him as homegrown Eton but, every now and again, a trace of Eastern Seaboard Atlantic shaded his vowels. “Did you say three bottles? And I thought I had bad hair days.”
“What can I say? She’s a diva.” His expression grew somber, as if weighing her up. “Look, I hope I’m not keeping you. I’m sure you and your hus —”
“You’re not!” Her response tripped out, sharp; too sharp obviously because he looked startled.
“Don’t be.” Cassie dug hands deep in her front pockets. “There isn’t any husband.” Amazing! She’d admitted it. More amazing...she no longer cared. “I was stood up.” She met his intrigued stare full on.
“Oh. Oh my God.” Genuine concern shadowed his eyes. “I am so sorry. Only yesterday you said—”
“I know.” Wrapping her arms around her waist, she forced an ineffectual smile to her lips. “I wasn’t lying. I am on my honeymoon, only without a groom.” She looked down at her feet, the concern in his eyes making her want to cry all over again. “It’s not so dramatic. He didn’t really leave me at the altar. He kindly gave me a couple of days’ heads up.”
“He sounds like a jerk.”
There was that Americanism again.
“Yes. He does, doesn’t he?” From behind, the receptionist’s curiosity wafted over the desk. The hotel staff believed her ‘husband’ had been unexpectedly called away on urgent business. Well now, at least, she had given them something to gossip over during their tea breaks. Mr. McIntyre read her thoughts. Placing a hand on her shoulder, he guided her out of snoop range.
“Sorry for being presumptuous but I’ve spent half my life in and out of hotels. They are hardly the most discreet of environments.”
Cassie shrugged her shoulders. “I don’t care anymore.” Skepticism bounced off him in waves but after her Gwyneth Paltrow of the day before she could hardly blame him. “Look Mr. Mac...Muck –”
“It’s kind of you to return my coat and the flowers are lovely—”
“What will you do now?”
His blunt question caught her square on the chin. “Do?” Confusion fluttered alongside alarm. She stepped away from him. Suddenly, the cavernous vestibule felt cold.
“I take it you’re alone here in London. It can’t be fun.”
“I’ll be fine.” She cursed the betraying quiver in her tone and she cursed him also, for making her feel vulnerable; for caring. “I’m sure I’ll be able to amuse myself.” She raised her chin. “There’s plenty to do in London. I’m not a total idiot.”
“I wasn’t suggesting you were.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sound…”
For one too long moment, he stared, eyes soft, laden with compassion. Tears stung behind her lids and she just wished he’d go away. He was drawing out every ounce of her hard-won self-preservation, leaving her back where she started. Betrayed and lonely.
“I have to go.” Clutching the dry cleaning bag to her chest, a shield against his too masculine presence, she pulled herself out from under his spell and edged back toward the elevator and emotional safety. “Thank you again, Mr?”
“James. Please say hello to Madonna.”
As she reached the gilt doors, his quiet, “And who shall I say says hello?” stopped her. “Pardon?”
“Well I don’t know your name.”
Hand on the call button, Cassie closed her eyes, willing herself to turn back, knowing her damp cheeks betrayed her loss of control. “Cassandra,” she gulped. “Cassie.”
“Cassandra.” His lips played with her name like a gentle kiss. “Cassie. Will you have dinner with me tonight?”
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Teaser Tuesday, a blog meme hosted by MizB on Should Be Reading.
A weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
- Grab your current read
- Open to a random page
- Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
- BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
- Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
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