Book Cover, Blurb, Buy links and Excerpt 1 can be found here:
About me and contact links - http://www.nataliegowens.com/p/about-me.html
Ego gave the thumbs up as shame strangled him. His knees buckled at the power of its invisible rope; but the wood of the bed stopped his fall.
“Lissy.” Her name hung on his lips, but he couldn’t say more in his own defense. His father’s face kept flashing before his eyes, tormenting him.
Finally, he admitted, “You deserve better.”
A muffled sound and she tentatively reached for his cheek, a gesture that brought with it a tide of relief.
She smiled weakly in a gesture of reassurance. “Should I agree?”
His courage bolstered, he sat down next to her, his back to the footboard, legs crossed, an arm around her shoulder.
“Remember the time I had to work sixteen hours a day for a month to finish a company-wide project before the end of the financial year?”
He felt her more than saw her smile as she leaned into his arm. “Dallas, and the VP from Nutty-ville.”
“Bingo,” he chuckled.
“I had the hardest time coping with that.”
“It wasn’t all bad. You brought dinner to me every evening because you knew I wouldn’t make it out of there before . That was the highlight of my day. It’s what I looked forward to.”
“Now I can laugh about it,” she said with a grin. “I just wanted it to be over.”
He squeezed her. “You and me both. What I mean is, sometimes you get used to something so much that you can’t live without it even if it’s not perfect. Ya know, like the thing about old couples slinging insults or grumbling at each other. It’s twisted but the heck I know why, it works.”
“Marriage is not only about getting used to things. There’s a lot more to it than that, mainly to do with compromise.”
She covered his hand with hers where it rested below her shoulder – at-ease affection in that act.
“I guess when it ended, we stopped being husband and wife, we stopped being lovers. It meant we were nothing to each other anymore. I didn’t feel okay with that.”
“Then why didn’t you say so? I had my faults but we didn’t have to go through hell, you know.”
He paused to gather his thoughts. “I guess… I thought you’d be better off forgetting about me.”
She sat up, her face curious, searching. “I don’t remember you being this honest in all the seven plus years I’ve known you.” She tilted her head. “But that doesn’t change reality, or the fact that you’ve shut me out of your past.”
“Why should the past affect who we are now? It’s not that important,” he argued. “We can make it work best by looking forward, into the future.”
With vehement shakes of her head, she got on her knees and hooked a finger under his chin. “Look at me now,” she demanded. “You’re a stubborn ass and you know it. There are things that are stopping you from moving on. You’re afraid to leave this race you’re in. I’m no fool. I can see it, and until you face it nothing’s going to change.”
“Thank you for the compliment,” he jested.
“That’s another thing. We get serious for a moment and you have to turn it into a joke. Hang on,” She sat back on her haunches and waved her hands. “Let me rephrase that. We speak about your past, and you dismiss it. Are you afraid I’d understand too much? Too little? Tell me, because I’m dying to solve this puzzle.”
“You make it sound as though I have some sick problem. I don’t.” The razor-sharp edge in his voice was a warning mostly to himself to cool it down.
Lisbeth got out of bed where they’d moved from the carpeted floor, while Dane slept the sleep of the dead. She covered a yawn and contemplated the beautiful creature beside her. Twilight had arrived but there was still enough light to afford her a good look at him without having to switch on the bedside lamp.
His head rested sideways on his hand. The hard planes of his face had softened; the lines at the corners of his mouth and between his eyes eased into youthful evenness. It was true what she’d heard once – sleep reveals what a person should be.
At this angle, the corded veins in his neck spread like slender tree branches embossed on his taut skin. She wanted to trace each one with her fingers first and then with her mouth, to learn and taste him once more.
She desired nothing more than for him to touch her again.
Biting hard on her bottom lip, she turned away from that sight and thought, and drifted to the kitchen.
She switched on the pendant lamps with the dimmer. The yellow diffused lighting allowed her to pick her wits, one at a time, rather than rudely jar her into wakefulness.
The box of Earl Grey called her name so she filled the kettle and switched it on, then popped a tea bag in her vintage Norman Rockwell coffee mug. Another memory of him she would never dispose of. She and Dane had picked it up at a garage sale in
. It was impossible to forget that
strange day when it rained buckets of hail in Florida in the heart of summer. Completely out
of character. Tampa
Like what she’d just done in the last few hours.
What the hell was she thinking? After what he’d put her through, she just followed the yellow brick road to madness.
1. This is what the restaurant “Rhapsody” looks like in “Everything to Lose” – and is located on the same street, too – http://www.leopoldus.it/
Something very important happens in this location. If you click the “Street view” tab on the map provided on this link - http://www.originalitaly.it/ristoranti/marche/ap/ascoli-piceno/leopoldus.html - you will be able to see the actual streets and surroundings via Google. Although I actually visited this restaurant many years ago with my Italian friend Laura, I couldn’t remember all the details. I do remember I had the most divine chocolate mousse :). It was such fun to actually see it online and refresh my memory!
2. Dane was born and raised on a ranch in Smiley, Texas - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smiley,_Texas
3. This is close to the area where Lisbeth lives (in Richmond, a London suburb) - http://www.flickr.com/photos/doug88888/2822929570/
4. This is where the mysterious Jeanette Lagrange lives - http://www.shropshire-barn.co.uk/market-drayton.html - Isn’t it cute? :)
5. Quaint cafés and shops. The main square in Ascoli Piceno, Italy, the pulse of the city - http://www.flickr.com/photos/rinofazzini/3996120340/in/set-72157614523057796
6. Recipe for “Olive all’Ascolana”, a typical dish of the Marche region in Italy, which Lisbeth orders at Bottega Trasi - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtKdymsTO-0
TRIVIA – For a chance to win a copy of any of my books (reader’s choice), answer the following:
“What type of cheese is used in the stuffing of olive all’ascolana according to the given You Tube recipe?”
Please provide your email address and state the preferred format for your prize.
I will draw a winner from the correct answers and announce it on my blog a day or two after this event (www.nataliegowens.com).