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Is Sex the Journey or the Destination? – A Guest Post by JL Peridot (@jlperidot) #giveaway

In stories and in life, sex can be an exciting driver for change. Desire stokes your energy and pushes you forward, waking you up, forcing you to appreciate what’s around you instead of sticking to the status quo.

When a friend of mine left her first husband, we were all shocked. To us, she was the heroine of a beautiful college romance that turned into the perfect life.

I tell her story with permission: one day, she met someone. She wanted him. She’d never felt this way before. Suddenly, she found she couldn’t settle for the first answer that came up when she wondered if Happily Ever After existed.

Whether or not this new guy was her hero, her desire for him thrust her marriage under a microscope. For the first time, she saw the stark incompatibilities, the lack of respect, the micro-aggressions and passive-aggressions that over the years told her to shut up and just be a good wife. She realised her husband had been antagonist material this whole time, and she was just too blind to see it.

Months after her marriage ended, I asked why she never hooked up with the new guy. She said even though her desire for him was “the beginning of the end”, she realised it was never really about getting together with him. She’d been deeply unhappy in her relationship for so long that it had become normal. She was sleepwalking through it, and figured that’s just what happiness must be like.

Yet somehow, her body knew that her head and her heart were out of synch. Every fibre of her being was determined to put it right. It tried letting her know through anxiety, through depression, through chronic illness, but nothing worked. Finally, it tried sexual desire — the beast that grows stronger, the more you try to ignore it.

A year later, she was a divorcee and the happiest I’d ever seen her, starting a new relationship with guy who later proved that heroes aren’t just found in storybooks.

In my novel, Chasing Sisyphus, my heroine and hero are undoubtedly attracted to each other. It’s no traditional romance novel attraction. They’re two good-looking adults who’ve been around the block enough to know there’s something there. The problem is there’s no way a wanted criminal and a cop can hook up. Not even in a corrupt city like Basilica.

So, what can they do? They can’t stop at the first answer that comes to mind: turning on each other and getting on with their lives. That’s what you’d settle for if it were with any old Joe. But when you want someone — really want someone — you look for a different answer. You can’t help it. Every fibre of your being pushes you towards it.

It doesn’t have to be about the sex, really. Sex, the act or just the mere idea of it, is there to wake you up. And with your eyes open, you can finally see the chapters of your life for what they are, and get back to creating your story.

Thank you, KD, for having me on your blog.

*****

Chasing Sisyphus excerpt:

Adria took a deep breath. Then another. The air was too thick in here. Shadows and sparks crept over her vision. Why was the floor moving?

She fumbled for the doorknob. No dice. Dried her hand on the towel and tried again. Cool air flooded in. Sweat prickled her skin. She blinked hard and rubbed water from her eyes. The dull carpet beneath her seemed to stretch on forever, a giant tilting landscape meeting a worn wallpaper horizon.

Detective Carver stepped toward her. He held out a cup and motioned for her to take it. She tucked a finger in the handle and clutched it in both hands. A dark crack streaked the rim like a wrinkle in a knuckle. Meanwhile, her own knuckles were pale.

“I guess I should thank you”—he smiled—“you know, for saving my life.”

“Don’t mention it,” she whispered, vision clearing as she sucked in a breath of fresh motel air.

The detective’s shirt hung, still wet, on the back of a chair. The contours of his chest and abdomen showed through his dark undershirt, accentuated by the sheen of composite fabric under lamplight. A shallow dimple creased the edge of his smile.

Details.

Anchors.

They’d come so close to not making it. But he’d cuffed her round the front. He was the sort of cop who’d do a thing like that. And the few seconds it bought made all the difference.

That’s why she went back.

He stood in front of her and knocked back his shot, the muscles in his wrist and arm flexing and twisting with the motion.

“Hey”—he looked at her—“something the matter?”

Heart racing, she downed her drink without a word and reached for him. She pulled his face to hers. His skin was warm. His breath was warm. Beneath the smell of liquor and earthy river water lurked the aroma of another person. A breathing person who caught her as she fell into him, as she kissed him, fumbling for something to hold onto.

The detective let go of his cup. It landed next to hers on the carpet. She kicked them both away. Her lips recognised him, recognised the sensation of life breathing between them both. Only this time, he was alive, too, hot and moving. His arms gripped her, holding her as she pushed her body toward him, against the growing need under his clothes. She was a buoy, slammed into him by waves in a storm. He clung to her, seizing fistfuls of her hair.

“What are we doing?” he gasped.

“We almost died tonight.”

She kissed him again, seeking his tongue where their lips met. Her nimble fingers worked the clasp of his belt. When it was undone, she peeled his undershirt from his muscular torso. His skin was cold beneath her touch, or were her hands hot from the shower? She looked at him. Right in the eye. She guided his hands up her waist and watched him intently.

“Fuck that, right?”

“Yeah”—he nodded—“fuck that.”

*****

Chasing Sisyphus blurb:

Bounty hunter Adria Yuan is hot on the trail of her final hit: a notorious hacker wanted by the city’s elite. With the reward, she can pay for her brother’s surgery and finally get out of Basilica City. Trouble is, her line of work’s not exactly legal, and she’s barely staying ahead of the cops who want her target, too.

Detective Rhys Carver may be a little unorthodox, but he’s a good cop. Born and bred in Basilica, he does his part to keep his city clean. As clean as it gets, at least. And with Adria suddenly in his sights, it’s going to take more than falling in love for him to let her go.

As the pair close in on their mark, they are unwittingly drawn into a high profile conspiracy that could thrust the whole of Basilica into chaos. Can Adria and Rhys set aside their differences, and their desires, to save the only home they know?

*****

About JL Peridot

JL Peridot never expected to write romance. She likes her stories with a little danger and only realised in her 30s that falling in love is one of the most dangerous things we do. From her home in Western Australia, she writes erotic romance, erotica, shopping lists and long-winded walls of text to her very patient friends.

*****

GIVEAWAY!

Make sure to follow the whole tour—the more posts you visit throughout, the more chances you’ll get to enter the giveaway. The tour dates are here: http://writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/jl-peridot/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Miranda’s Masks: New Release from Lisabet Sarai

 

Shy and serious by dayinsatiable by night.

 

Buy now for 99 cents!

 

 

A Journey to Pleasure and Love

 

I’m here to share a bit about my newest release, Mirandas Masks. This novel chronicles the experiences of a young woman learning to trust her own sexuality. Scarred by the cruelty of her first lover, Miranda Cahill takes refuge in her studies. Though she tries to deny her needs, her attempts to suppress her libido ultimately fail. She finds herself engaging in increasingly extreme sexual scenarios with strangers who have no notion who she is. Her body demands satisfaction, but Miranda’s not willing to risk her heart—not until her equally adventurous colleague Mark Anderson wins her confidence and her heart. She comes to realize that Mark is not only her soul mate, but also her companion in the quest for erotic pleasure, and that far from being opposites, lust and love a mutually reinforcing.

  

Miranda’s Masks Blurb:

 

Betrayed and abandoned by her first lover, shy and studious Miranda Cahill freezes in response to any sexual attention from someone she knows and likes.

 

During the day, she works diligently on her doctoral thesis. At night, she finds herself drawn into increasingly extreme sexual encounters with strangers. Public coupling, multiple partners, age play, spankings, bondage, lesbian lust—each experience reveals new dimensions of her depravity. Her anonymous secret life begins to take over when she discovers that the masked seducer she meets in a sex club and the charismatic young professor courting her are the same man.

 

Dickens scholar Mark Anderson seems like an affable, uncomplicated Midwesterner, but he has hidden depths, myriad talents, and an unlimited appetite for erotic variety. With Mark as her guide, Miranda gradually comes to understand and accept the intricacy of her own desires, as well as to trust her heart.

 

Note: This novel was previously published under the title Incognito. It has been expanded, revised and reformatted for this release.

 

*****

 

eXcessica, November 2017

Taboo contemporary erotic romance (Five flames)

BDSM/Ménage/Multiple partners/lesbian/gay

Approximately 86,000 words

HEA ending

#bdsm #eroticromance #lisabetsarai #bondage #discipline #dominance #submission #victorian #boston #london #crossdressing #incestfantasy #literature #Shakespeare

 

*****

 

 

Miranda’s Masks Excerpt:

 

He stood aside to let her out the door first. She passed very near to him, sensing the heat of his body. It made her feel strange and quivery inside. The sleeves of his plaid sport shirt were rolled to his elbows, exposing the tanned, bare skin of his forearms. She suppressed a sudden impulse to reach out and stroke that skin.

 

As she had predicted, they were the restaurant’s only customers. After taking their order, the young waiter left them alone.

 

At first, Mark did most of the talking, about his acting, his travels, his students, his Chinese neighbors. Miranda listened to his colorful tales with half her mind. At the same time, she was studying his expressions, watching his movements, trying to sort out her feelings toward him.

 

He was unquestionably attractive, if you liked the egghead type. The eyeglasses lent a serious air to a face that otherwise was boyish and mischievous. She liked his body, too, lean, compact, with a frank physicality that both drew and scared her. He used his whole body when he talked, making pictures in the air, reaching across and touching her hand to emphasize a point. The first time he did that, she unconsciously pulled away. As she got more used to him, she found that she didn’t mind it at all.

 

Miranda finished her garlic soup and took a sip of her wine. She didn’t ordinarily drink at lunch, but she had accomplished so much during her morning’s work, she felt a desire to celebrate. She also hoped that it would relax her. In fact the effect was somewhat more than relaxation; she had only consumed half the glass and already she felt distinctly tipsy.

 

Time to bite the bullet, she thought, raising her wineglass to her lips again during a lull in the conversation. “So, Mark, I feel that I owe you an explanation. Some justification for why I’m such a cold fish.”

 

“I’d hardly call you that,” said Mark with a strange smile.

 

“Well, you know what I mean. You’ve seen how I am. Whenever things get the least bit physical, I freeze. I can be feeling sensual and receptive, enjoying your company as I did last night. But let sex rear its head, and reflex takes over. I become numb, or worse, terrified. And the more I like the man, the stronger the negative reaction.”

 

Mark listened attentively, but made no comment.

 

“I actually know why I am this way. I just can’t stop it.” Then she told him about Geoff, her first lover, her first betrayer. The story poured out of her, even the details of her sexual initiation. Surprisingly, it was easy to talk to him about sex, even though the slightest action in that direction immediately raised her defenses.

 

Mark sat across from her, frowning. “He just disappeared, without a word, without saying goodbye?”

 

Miranda nodded. “After we spent every night together for three straight weeks. After he took my virginity and my heart. I never heard from him again.”

 

“No wonder you have some problems trusting a lover,” said Mark. He took her hand, but this time she didn’t flinch. The touch felt brotherly. “Poor Miranda.”

 

“Well, lots of people have bad relationships. I don’t know why I can’t just let go of the whole thing. It was almost three years ago.”

 

“A woman’s first lover has a special hold on her psyche. At least that’s what my mother used to tell me. She warned me to be very careful of virgins. ‘They break easily,’ she said.”

 

 

Buy Links — Just 99c/p until next week! 

 

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077J37RW6

 

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B077J37RW6

 

Barnes & Noble – https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/mirandas-masks-lisabet-sarai/1127499525?ean=2940158774584

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR list! https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36622764-miranda-s-masks

 

 

About Lisabet:

 

LISABET SARAI occasionally tackles other genres, but BDSM will always be her first love. Every one of her nine novels
includes some element of power exchange, while her D/s short stories range from mildly kinky to intensely perverse.

 

You’ll find information and excerpts from all Lisabet’s books on her website (http://www.lisabetsarai.com/books.html), along with more than fifty free stories and lots more. At her blog Beyond Romance (http://lisabetsarai.blogspot.com), she shares her philosophy and her news and hosts lots of other great authors. She’s also on Goodreads and finally, on Twitter.

 

 

 

 

Finally Found—Lesbian Erotic Romance by Lucy Felthouse, Out Now! @cw1985 #lesbian #romance #lesfic #shortstory

Finally FoundBlurb:

Natalia has been in love with her best friend Ashleigh for years, ever since they were housemates at university. Unfortunately, circumstances, and then Natalia’s unwillingness to jeopardise their friendship, mean that she has never confessed her feelings, choosing instead to be grateful for the close relationship they do have. However, on a weekend away together, a bottle or two of wine and an erotic book place the girls in a highly charged sexual situation. Will Natalia make a move, or is she too afraid to rock the boat and risk losing Ashleigh altogether?

Please note: This story was previously published as part of the Lover Unexpected: Sappho Edition anthology.

Available from:

Amazon (universal link): http://mybook.to/finallyfound

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/finally-found-lucy-felthouse/1127213165?ean=2940154581544

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/finally-found/id1295030753?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/finally-found-6

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/752769?ref=cw1985

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36401551-finally-found

*****

Excerpt:

Natalia smiled as she caught sight of the familiar redhead sitting at a table in the hotel bar. Thankful for the thick carpet masking her footsteps, she walked up behind her friend, ensuring she wouldn’t be seen. Then she slipped her hands over her eyes. “Guess who?”

An excitable squeak, then, “Oh, I don’t know. Is it Scarlett Johansson?”

“Hmm, close, but not quite. Guess again.”

“Oh, shut up you silly cow, and come here.” With that, the redhead stood and turned, throwing her arms around Natalia and pulling her into a tight hug. “Hey, gorgeous. I missed you! How are you?”

“I missed you too, Ashleigh. I’m good, thanks. How about you? You look great.”

Disentangling from their embrace, Ashleigh looked down at her clingy black top and skinny jeans and shrugged. “Thanks. I’m okay, I guess. All the better for seeing you. It’s been forever. Come on, sit down. Let’s get a drink.”

They sat down, and a waiter appeared. Natalia suspected he’d been waiting at a safe distance until they’d finished their enthusiastic greeting.

He smiled. “What can I get you ladies?”

Natalia looked at her watch. “You know what, it’s Saturday and it’s after twelve. I’ll have a glass of white wine, please. Something mid-range and not too dry.”

Ashleigh piped up. “Make it a bottle. Thanks.”

The waiter nodded, gave a little bow and walked away.

“So,” Natalia said, settling back into the plush armchair, “how was your journey? I always find getting into London a total nightmare, but it’s not so bad once you’re here. The Tube may be sweaty and crowded, but at least it’s fast.”

Ashleigh nodded. “It was all right, actually. The train into the city was on time and not very busy, and, like you say, the Tube is quick and easy. It was pretty stress-free. You?”

“Much the same. I’m just glad we’re finally here. I can’t believe it’s been a year since we’ve seen each other. It’s so easy to forget that when we talk almost every day.”

“I know. I’m sorry. It’s just life gets in the way, doesn’t it? Especially as we live so far apart. And then there was all that stuff with Kayla…” Ashleigh lapsed into silence and dropped her gaze to the table.

Natalia didn’t know how to respond to that, so she just nodded sagely. Kayla had been Ashleigh’s live-in girlfriend, until the discovery of some text messages and emails tipped Ashleigh off that she was being cheated on. Despite all of Kayla’s pleas and declarations of true and undying love, Ashleigh had no intention of being a doormat, so she’d thrown Kayla out, and that was the end of it.

Of course, Natalia had known that Kayla was going to be thrown out before Kayla did. As soon as Ashleigh had found the incriminating missives, she’d gotten straight on the phone to Natalia for advice. And as much as Natalia wanted to tell her friend to get the hell rid of the cheating bitch, she also wanted her to be happy, so instead she’d asked Ashleigh if she thought she was being too hasty.

“Fuck no,” Ashleigh had replied, “as far as I’m concerned, she’s destroyed my trust. Once that happens things are never the same, so it’s not worth it. And if I meant that much to her, she wouldn’t have done it, would she?”

*****

Author Bio:

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), The Persecution of the Wolves and Hiding in Plain Sight. Including novels, short stories and novellas, she has over 160 publications to her name. She owns Erotica For All, and is one eighth of The Brit Babes. Find out more about her writing at http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk, or on Twitter or Facebook. Sign up for automatic updates on Amazon or BookBub. Subscribe to her newsletter and get a free eBook: http://www.subscribepage.com/lfnewsletter

Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Out Now— April Swings, Erotic Menage Romance by Adriana Kraft @AdrianaKraft #giveaway

 

Series: Meghan’s Playhouse, Book 3

Blurb

April Day deeply loves her husband, Derek, but something’s missing. To heat things up, she books them on a Caribbean cruise for their seventh anniversary. She’s not sure what she’s looking for, but she knows she’s found it as soon as she spots the delectable sprite of an actress who stars in the ship’s daily shows.

Meghan Keenan’s having a blast with her latest squeeze, Clark Hendricks, who writes and directs the shipboard main shows. Should she turn down April’s request to heat up her marriage? And if she accepts, where will Clark fit in?

Derek is stunned by his wife’s brash pursuit of the hot young actress. Must he match her boldness to keep her from leaving him?

Available From:

Amazon (universal link) http://mybook.to/aprilswings

Extasy Books http://www.extasybooks.com/april-swings

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36423768-april-swings

*****

Excerpt

“Crap, you haven’t pounded me like this for years,” April panted.

Derek felt her fingers clawing at his back. She hadn’t been a wildcat like this for years, either. He lifted her butt off the bed and continued plowing in and out of her. Her heels pounded his backside.

“I’m coming!” she keened. “Come with me. Do it.”

Her verbal barrage rattled his brain, and then his cock exploded. He worked his wife’s hips back and forth along his length, spurting and filling her like she’d demanded. Breathing heavily, he flexed his arms and settled April on the bed, then leaned over and kissed her forehead. “I didn’t hurt you, did I?” Her giggles confused his muddled thoughts.

“Good grief.” Grinning broadly, she lolled her head from side to side. “Does this look like a woman in pain?”

He shook his head. “Not really. But let’s roll over so I don’t have to worry about crushing you.” He rolled them easily until April beamed down at him.

She licked perspiration from his chin. “So watching me ride Meg’s fingers must’ve been a turn-on after all.”

He gave her a crooked smile. “That, and imagining her howling into the night.” He ran a finger along her nose. “You didn’t do badly in that department, yourself.”

“I hadn’t realized how silent I’d become over the years until Meg quizzed you about me. I could hardly keep my mouth closed in the lounge.”

“I noticed.”

“So are you ready for Meg to get more involved with us?”

He scowled. “Do we have to? Wasn’t this good enough?”

April shook her head. “Who knows what good enough is? Do you really want to turn your back on Meg? Do you really want me to turn my back on her? We may never have this kind of opportunity again. We’re free to try whatever we want here.” She kissed his mouth and dragged her tongue across his lips. “Don’t you at least want to try? For us. Or at least, for me.”

*****

Behind the Scenes at Meghan’s Playhouse

What’s your favorite erotic fantasy? Does it include ménage – maybe a man sandwich, or making love with a woman and a man at the same time? Have you ever kissed a girl?

We started writing our Meghan’s Playhouse series to deliver some of our favorite fantasies for our readers. When we began book 1, we simply planned to write an erotic romp. We knew we wanted a young “sprite,” a bisexual woman full of energy and inventiveness, as the star in our story. We thought of her as a modern-day Aphrodite, bringing other couples together through sharing sex with both partners.

In the beginning, we didn’t give too much thought to her motivation, or to that of the other major players. Characters have a way of taking over, though, and Meg wasn’t satisfied with just being a piece of fluff having hot sex scenes. Each book in the series is its own love story, stirring up emotions even Meg wasn’t prepared for.

The original five-book series was first released in 2009 by a different e-publisher. It’s been unavailable for over four years, and we’re thrilled Extasy Books has contracted to re-release it, completely revised and re-edited. In the meantime, Meg insisted we write one more adventure. The six books are releasing approximately every ten weeks.

Seducing Cat, May, 2017

A Woman for Zachary, August, 2017

April Swings, October, 2017

A Ring for Christmas, December 7, 2017

Vegas Gambler, February 23, 2018

Meg’s Folly, May 4, 2018

*****

About the Author

Winner of the 2014 Bisexual Book Award for erotic fiction, author Adriana Kraft is a husband wife team writing Sizzling Romantic Suspense and Erotic Romance for Two, Three, or More.

Readers can count on our Romantic Suspense line for gutsy characters, hot sex, and breathtaking intimacy as our hero and heroine battle outer threats and inner demons to stay alive and fall in love.

We write our Erotic Romance stories to entertain, of course, but most of all we write them because we believe in happy endings for all who fall in love, whatever their gender, sexual orientation or numerical combination. Here you’ll find multiple partners, three-way, four-way and more, swing lifestyle, lesbian, bisexual, ménage and polyamory, in both contemporary and paranormal settings.

Together we have published more than forty romance novels and novellas to outstanding reviews. We love hearing from readers at adrianakraft99@yahoo.com.

Links:

Website: http://www.adrianakraft.com/

Blog: http://www.adrianakraft.com/blog

FaceBook Page http://www.facebook.com/pages/Adriana-Kraft/182846025133440

Twitter http://twitter.com/AdrianaKraft

GoodReads http://www.goodreads.com/author/list/1578571.Adriana_Kraft

Newsletter http://eepurl.com/uRvCr

Amazon Author Page https://www.amazon.com/author/adrianakraft

Google+ https://plus.google.com/102791537641895264573/posts

*****

Giveaway

Two winners will win their choice of Book 1 or Book 2 in the Meghan’s Playhouse Series:

Book 1 Seducing Cat

What could college English Professor Caitlin Shanahan ever have in common with the brash carpenter Kurt Davis?  The sexy sprite Meghan Keenan, that’s what. 

Book 2 A Woman for Zachary

It’s New York! Broadway beckons, but Meg has more fun keeping an erotic triangle going with her current flame, Zach Cullen, and her drama coach, Josie Patrice.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Release blitz organized by Writer Marketing Services.

 

Out Now—United in Love, a Charity Anthology Edited by Lucy Felthouse (@cw1985) #charity #anthology #britishredcross

United in LoveBlurb:

The world could use a lot more love, which is why being united in love is the theme of this short story collection. Each of the characters are dealing with horrific and heartbreaking situations—loss, grief, war, divorce, dementia, disputes over land and more, but what they all have in common is that, with the help of love, of unity, they come through. It may not be all happily-ever-after—since life just doesn’t work that way—but positivity and solidarity shine through in each of the tales and will warm your heart.

So enjoy these stories of unexpected companionship, old lovers reuniting, second chances and creative problem-solving, with the knowledge that the proceeds from your purchase will also have a deeply positive effect—with every penny going to the British Red Cross’s UK Solidarity Fund.

Featuring stories from Gina Wynn, Lily Harlem, Rebecca Chase, Rosie Jamieson, Skye MacKinnon, M H Heyer, Alyssa Drake, Arizona Tape and Lucy Felthouse.

Available from:

Amazon (universal link): http://mybook.to/unitedinlove

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/2wq8dqe

iBooks: http://apple.co/2hdoqEP

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2yjSoyG

Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2hbrLrN

Add to Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36240214-united-in-love

*****

Excerpt from What’s Past is Present by Gina Wynn

Connie always believed she’d know it was summer when the rain got warmer. And that meant summer was today.

She ran along the pavement, trying to dodge the drops as they fell in big splats on her bare arms like sloppy kisses, hunching as she attempted to shield the package of fish and chips she carried. The aroma of the hot food and warm paper tickled her nose, and she could almost taste the contents. Declan would be lucky if she arrived back with anything more than soggy, empty wrappings at this rate.

Picking up her pace as the smell of rain-splashed tarmac filled the air, she hurried the rest of the way back to the house. His house. She shook her head. It would take a while to see the house as anything but Mr Pearce’s place—an adjustment it felt like she’d only just made. Now, it was Dec’s. Just Dec’s. In her head, it’d only just stopped being his place where he lived with his dad. Glancing at the windows in hopes of glimpsing him inside as she walked past had been a habit for a very long time.

When her doorbell had rung the previous night, she hadn’t expected to find a very crumpled, travel-weary Dec in the dingy entryway to her bedsit. In fact, he was probably the last person she hoped to ever find gracing the stoop of what she not-quite-laughingly referred to as her hovel.

She’d barely had chance to move, or slam the door in his definitely unwelcome face, before he wrapped his arms around her, folding her into a perfect bear hug of long-ago familiarity. Caught off-guard and unprepared to see him, she rested her cheek against the soft brushed cotton of his shirt, listening to his heartbeat, as his fingers splayed over her cheek, and she pretended not to notice the rough gasps of air he drew or the silent tears landing in her hair. Her chest hollowed, her heart breaking both for him and over him anew, and a lone teardrop of her own slid noiselessly down her nose.

Of course, she’d promised to help him today because she could never deny him anything, even though she’d spent the past five years regretting him. Getting over him. The bastard. She’d never stopped loving him.

Five years had crept by in a lazy blink of his beautiful brown eyes. And now, in the place where she’d spent so many of her stolen days and illicit nights, she could almost imagine the clocks had rolled back and he’d never left. She’d certainly wished for it enough times.

Short of pressing the doorbell with her nose she had no way to attract his attention, so she pushed on the door handle with her elbow and shouldered her way through the unlocked door into the narrow hall. The same worn carpet, lending a musty smell to the house these days, ran straight ahead to the kitchen and up the stairs. She walked towards the kitchen, ignoring the grime of a house where the owner hadn’t cared as much for the fabric of the building over the years as he did the family members within it. Framed portraits and holiday snapshots of Dec and his dad lined the walls, but she brushed past each of them. She could describe the position and content of each—perhaps accurately pinpoint the date of a few if she appeared on Mastermind with ‘The early life of Declan Pearce’ as her specialist subject.

But as she turned to push through the door into the next room, she caught sight of some new pictures and swallowed down a mixture of envy and bitterness at the juxtaposition of Declan’s life before and after—the part where he’d moved on without her. Even after Dec left, his dad must have continued to hang pictures of him because there he was, framed with as much care as anything that gone before.

Dec in an office of black leather and gleaming chrome—a vista of New York spread like a map through the huge picture window behind him; Dec beside an aeroplane bearing his name—sunglasses on, wide grin in place, and a suit that must have been expensive but one he wore without effort and made it look good.

Dec behind a podium.

Dec in an apartment so swish she’d have believed someone had Photoshopped him into it if she didn’t know better.

Dec… Dec… Dec. Just him.

Her gaze skimmed the remainder of the newest frames, and her thoughts stalled. She leant closer. No. They weren’t photographs. They were pictures that had been cut with great care from glossy magazines and newspaper articles, as if someone was reduced to simply scrapbooking a loved one’s life rather than being part of it.

Regret flashed through her. It didn’t show the future—the life together— she and Dec had planned in all those late nights that somehow turned into seeing the dawn. If she was honest, it didn’t show any sort of life she’d ever imagined for anyone she knew, let alone someone she loved. And especially not for Dec. She’d always believed they were the same type of person. But maybe not now she could see his life through someone else’s eyes.

She shrugged, trying to throw off her sudden melancholy. The fish and chips wouldn’t eat themselves.

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© 2017 K D Grace
The Romance Reviews

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