Category Archives: CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE

Top 3 Reasons Why I Read Romance Novels by Elaine Cantrell (contemporary romance author)

her-kind-of-man-500x724Reading is so much fun. If I’m in the mood for a good book, chances are I’ll pick a romance novel. So what’s the appeal of a good romance? Why do some many people read them?

1. I think that first of all, most folks are fighting some kind of battle in their lives. Maybe, like my heroine Kara in Her Kind of Man, they’re in a relationship that went bad, and they’ve lost the one they love. Whether it was by divorce, death, or just walking away, it tears a huge hole in someone’s heart. Maybe the problem is health-related. Someone has to accept that there are now limitations placed on them. Have you ever dealt with unemployment? How do you feed your children with no11168092_det paycheck? True romances always have a happy ending which gives us hope that tomorrow things will be better. We can believe that ‘this too shall pass.’  Remember what happened at the end of Gone With the Wind?  Scarlett lost Rhett and collapsed in tears, but then she decided to go home to Tara where she can think of a way to get Rhett back. Human beings are designed to hope.

2. I also think that romances possibly satisfy our craving for justice. In the real world, things don’t always end happily. Children are abused, the missing teen is never found, or our possessions are stolen. In the vast majority of romances you know the bad guys are going to get what’s coming to them. Heroes and heroines sometimes face determined villains, but you can rest easy in the TheFlameAndTheFlowerknowledge that the bad guys will never win.

3. Last, I read romance because I’m a romantic at heart. I just adore a good love story. The first romance I can remember reading was The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss. Anybody ever read it?

Readers, what about you? Why do you read romance? Leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Connect with Elaine Cantrell on her web site and on facebook and twitter.

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So You Want To Be A Bestselling Author? Part 9: Q and A with bestseller Ruth Cardello

1525041_763874253623047_936091427_nSo happy that Ruth Cardello is our Q and A guest today. Ruth is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She is also SUPER savvy on social media and is DYNAMITE at utilizing social networking to promote her books and help turn them into BIG hits.

Why do you write?taken_not_spurred-2xer5tft36936dfnce8cne

I have always been passionate about reading romance stories. As a young girl I would stay up all night secretly reading the newest Harlequin novel. Writing became a natural way for me to escape into the worlds I loved being ensconced in. It is also a way for me to get the voices in my head to quiet down . . . or at least it gives me an excuse for them.

BeddingTheBillionaire-ebook-2xcx6nll4n8vh1kd2nfw96You are known for being an Internet success story –tell us how that came about.

I wouldn’t take “no” for an answer. Publishers told me that the story I had submitted was good but not what they were looking for. I was determined to publish my book. I started searching on the Internet for information on self-publishing. It was still very new at that time. I methodically began connecting and networking with other authors online. Once my first book was self-published, I began connecting with my readers and sharing my knowledge with other authors who were just starting out. I’ve paid forward my good fortune each and every chance I had and I like to think that is what has brought so many wonderful people into my life. Writing a novel is a solitary process. Publishing it is not.

Some authors cringe at the idea of social media and see it as a waste of time away from their writing. What do you think about it? How much time do you spend on social media every day?

come-away-with-me-2wc5yekda8llpnwyuk1c7eI use every social media outlet possible.  I am on Facebook, where I have a personal page, a Business Page, and several other pages that are used for networking with other authors and my readers. I am also on twitter , Goodreads, Google+, Authorgraph and Pinterest.  I dedicate at least one hour a day solely to connecting with my readers and other authors.

Based on your own experience, do you think it’s a good idea for an author to invest in his or her own promotional or marketing budget? If so – what are some of the important things that an author should consider?

Yes, writing is a business and any business owner will tell you that you have to invest in yourself to grow. The initial investment can be time, but never underestimate the value of a good editor. Important things to consider are budget, target market, and finding the best advertisers within budget that will reach the most readers. A good cover and a good tag line are also important in your promotion.

What are the top three things every author needs to do to create a buzz around a new release?

MaidfortheBillionaire-ebook-2xcx6mccppwzok3n7zlc7e1. The best tool for me is my newsletter.  If you have a newsletter, use it to notify your readers of your new release. Every reader who reads your book and doesn’t sign up to stay connected with you in some way may forget you by the time you release your next. Not because they didn’t love your book, but because of the sheer number of good books available out there.

2. Inform your readers of your release via all of your social media outlets. Post about your release on Facebook. Tweet about it. Share it on Google + and add it to your blog. Encourage your fans to share it with their friends.

3. If you can arrange for a Blog Blitz or a Book Blog Tour you can reach even more readers.

What do you think of the notion that you’re not only an author but you’re a business person too? Does that resonate with you?

ForLoveOrLegacy-ebook-2xcx6myyx6kxksu05bim8aAbsolutely. Wearing an author’s hat and a business hat keeps me busy! Sometimes I have to set the business aspect of writing aside so it doesn’t cut into my writing time. But I can’t always put the business aside because being an author is like running a very busy shop where you are the sole employee.

Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

I have a lot of authors who have inspired me throughout the years.  I couldn’t begin to list them all here. Annette Blair and Sandra Marton were amazing to me when I first started out and I hero worshipped both for their writing ability.

What would I find on your desk at this very moment?

My laptop, an iPad, my cell phone, a plaque that reads “if you can dream it, you can do it – Walt Disney”, a bottle of water and some carrot sticks.

What is your favourite guilty pleasure treat that you indulge in when writing?
I don’t eat chocolate or many sweets, but I do love to start my writing day with an iced French Vanilla coffee.
 
RiseOfTheBillionaire-ebook-2xcx6p8e2g6blo9p2wuf4aA great writer or a good book doesn’t necessarily translate to hitting a bestseller list. What do you think the bestselling authors do differently than authors who don’t sell as well?

It’s a whole new world out here in Indie publishing. You’re right there are many good books that don’t hit the lists. All things equal, to make a list your book has to be seen. It’s that simple. How an author gets their book in the hands of new readers and grows their reader base—that’s an individual path all the best sellers created for themselves. But the bottom line is always the same. A good book needs to find its readers. Once it does that, it’s on its way.

Connect with Ruth Cardello via her web site, on facebook, twitter and pinterest.

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Sneak Peek Monday: For A Short Time by Lori Lapekes (contemporary romance / new adult romance)

FOR A SHORT TIME COVERToday’s Sneak Peek is from the contemporary romance For a Short Time by Lachesis Publishing author Lori Lapekes. For a Short Time is about a young woman who goes through many changes in her life, including realizing whom she truly loves.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

Keri has no idea who she really is anymore.

Raised in the Midwest, where catching frogs and shoveling manure is common practice, then spending several adult years traveling the country and hob-nobbing with celebrities and the elite, Keri returns to her roots. She now lives in her sister`s basement, wondering just who she really is anymore.

After a peculiar meeting with the Quinn cousins, Keith and Jeremy, Keri is determined to capture Keith`s attention. An actor, a tall, compelling man, elusive, even abrasive at times, Keith is particularly intriguing to a woman like Keri who is accustomed to capturing the heart of any man she`s ever wanted. Yet it was Jeremy, the humble cabinet-maker and owner of a misshapen dog named Scalawag, who leaped into a bon-fire to rescue a scrap of an old coat that had sentimental value for her.

Following two episodes with the facial disorder, Bell`s Palsy, and after Jeremy has moved out of state, possibly to run from his heartbreak over her, Keri finally realizes not only who she really is─but who she needs to become.

But is it too late . . .

EXCERPT:

“It can’t be over between us, all the signs were there for you to finally be the right one for me,” Keri insisted.

“What signs?” Keith asked.

Keri stared into his shadowy face. Clinging tatters of mist drifted across it, obliterating his eyes for one moment, his mouth the next moment. The fog was cool and clammy to the skin in the dismal mist.

“The signs,” said Keri. “You know, the signs.” But, suddenly, she couldn‘t think of a one.

He turned his back on her, and began to fade away into the mist.

“Keith, come back!” Keri said. “I‘ll remember them, I know I will. It‘ll make a difference!”

But Keith continued to shrink into the fog. Soon he was only a dark patch in the distance, then that was swept away by the wisps of lonely swirling mist.

Keri was left in silence. A silent world of emptiness and chill.

“Keith . . .” she whimpered, “come back, I need you . . .” Only silence.

Keri heard her heart beating against her chest.

“Keith.” she whispered, tears trailing down her cheeks. Her knees went weak, and she sunk into the ground. “Don‘t leave me, I need you, don‘t leave me.”

“Straighten up, Keri,” came a voice behind her.

“What—who?” Keri asked, and slowly turned around. It was clearer where he stood, almost as though the sun was ready to break through the mist that was strangely falling away from him.

Jeremy.

“Please, stand up,” Jeremy said again. Something about the tone of his voice, oddly authoritative yet gentle at the same time, made Keri gather her strength and stand.

“Come here,” Jeremy said, and held out his hand. “

Keith left me,” Keri sobbed, but found herself drawing nearer to Jeremy. He seemed spectral as she stared at his hand, his comforting hand, and it drew her closer. When she reached him, she took his hand, and he pulled her close.

A jolt of something indescribable, joy mixed with peace and an incredible calmness pulsed through her at Jeremy‘s touch. He held her hand tighter, pulled her closer, and Keri began to quiver as she found herself face to face with Jeremy, gazing into wonderful eyes radiating a calm assurance and wisdom she had never before encountered. Heat raced through her and her legs became weak.

Jeremy‘s eyes glimmered. It paralyzed her to stare into them. Those eyes seemed to search into hers, gently probing, as though trying to connect with her soul. Keri became lightheaded, intoxicated, the poison of Keith‘s rejection now drained away.

“You‘re going to be all right now,” Jeremy said, and his voice seemed to roll like thunder and yet felt like a breathy whisper at the same time. It echoed as he continued, and suddenly the fog parted and a warming blaze of sun fell across them.

“I‘ll stay with you,” said Jeremy. “You don‘t have to be afraid anymore. You can finally be yourself.”

Those words flowed through Keri in cascades of relief. Finally, finally she felt it. She couldn‘t quite grasp what it all meant, but a weight had lifted.

“Thank you, thank you, Jeremy,” Keri said, gulping in great breaths of air. “What would I do without you? You‘re the one I need, you‘re the one I was meant for all along”

At those words, Jeremy smiled. Keri‘s eyes strayed toward his lips, and lingered there. His mouth smiled, his eyes smiled, and Keri was sure his heart smiled, too.

And so did she. Keri let go of his hand, and slowly wrapped her arms around his neck. He put his arms around her shoulders and drew her tighter to him. When they fully connected, the warmth of their touch was explosive, and Keri could scarcely control herself. She closed her eyes and suddenly, tantalizingly, his lips were pressed against hers. She gasped inwardly as the warmth and movement of his kiss sent shivers down her spine and into her toes. At first Jeremy‘s kiss was sweet and gentle, but as it became more urgent, its passion leached all of the strength from Keri‘s limbs until she was practically hanging limp in his embrace.

All she could think was—how did he learn to kiss like this? Was it the way it was supposed to be when two people were genuinely . . . in love?

No—it couldn‘t be! Jeremy was just her dear friend, like a brother, really.

Yet . . .

“Aunt Keri, get up!” said a wee voice far, far away. “You promised to play opera lady with me this morning.”

“What?” Keri moaned.

There was a soft shaking on her shoulders. “Aunt Keri, Keri, get up, sleepyhead! Take the pillow off your face.”

Reality crawled back to Keri in a lazy wave. Jeremy‘s embrace vanished, and the scene dissipated into fragments as Keri awoke, reluctantly pulling herself from the dream. Only a dream.

“Jutht a minute, Kate,” Keri mumbled. “Have thum patienth.”

“What?” Katie asked. “You sound weird.”

“It‘th the pirrow on ma face,” Keri said, rising slowly as she removed the pillow. “I like ta thleep like dat.”

Keri noticed the oddity just as Katie‘s eyes bulged at her.

“What‘s wrong with your face?” Katie cried.

Keri‘s hand flew to the right side of her face, which felt heavy and numb. It seemed dragged down, contorted. She could barely see out of her right eye.

“There‘s drool coming out of your mouth, just like Rover‘s,” said Katie. “I think your pillow got too heavy! It melted your face!”

Keri tried to gasp, but her mouth would not work correctly. It seemed weights were pulling her lip down on the right side, making it lopsided.

Dear Lord . . . had she had a stroke?

She flung off her blankets, twisted to the side of her bed, and sat up. It seemed her right arm worked fine, as well as her leg. And she could think clearly. But the horrified look on her niece‘s face confirmed the frightening fact that something was drastically wrong.

If you want to read more you can purchase For A Short Time at Lachesis Publishing or on amazon.

Connect with Lori Lapekes on her web site and on facebook.

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Filed under CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE, Lachesis Publishing, LOVE STORY, New Adult Romance, ROMANCE AUTHOR, romance authors, romance books, ROMANCE FICTION, ROMANCE NOVEL, ROMANCE NOVELS

Fun Friday: Fall in love for only .91 cents!

her-kind-of-man-500x724Why yes! You will fall in love with Elaine Cantrell’s contemporary new adult romance Her Kind of Man.

only .91 cents at amazon.

That’s a pretty cheap date. :)

Growing up is hard to do, especially when you’re a popular small town golden girl and former high school cheerleader. But Kara Cochrane’s life is about to be turned inside out!

What it’s about:

Is it possible she’s finally found her kind of man?

Ross Williams has been in love with Kara Cochrane since they were kids, so when Kara’s fiancé Brandon Miles cheats on her and calls off their wedding—Ross steps in to rescue the damsel in distress.

A heartbroken Kara just wants to get on with her life and hunky Ross provides her with a definite distraction—that is until she starts falling for him. Big time.

But a devastating family secret threatens to destroy everything that Kara holds dear—including her relationship with Ross.

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How to Write Hot Sex Scenes by Alexis D. Craig (romantic suspense and erotica author)

Give Me Shelter COVEROur guest blog today is from Lachesis author Alexis D. Craig. Alexis writes and sultry and spicy romantic suspense (Give Me Shelter and Imminent Danger) featuring the brave men and women in law enforcement.  She also writes super hot erotica featuring sexy cops (Undercover Seduction). Today, Alexis shares her tips on writing a hot sex scene! Take it away Alexis . . . 

Okay, so you’re writing a romance novel and you have characters whose chemistry has come to a boil. They want to take the next logical step, and you want them to, too, but you’re not sure about writing the scene. Here’s where I come in to help.

Let’s start with a few simple dos and don’ts.

Don’t get uptight about it. You want it to flow naturally and the pace with which it does is dictated by your characters and the context of the scene.

Don’t rush it. You don’t have a set series of points you have to reach in a specific amount of time. The journey is just as important as the destination.

Don’t be afraid to get dirty with it. Sex is messy, the language can be quite vulgar and if your characters are feeling it, go for it. You obviously don’t have to use words that make you, the author, uncomfortable, but the very nature of the scene gives you more leeway in terms of propriety.

Don’t, under any circumstances, get too florid with the euphemisms. I’m not saying that everything has to be perfectly scientifically proper (e.g. ‘penis’, ‘vagina’, clitoris, etc…) BUT if you get too wild while beating around the bush (ahem) you’ll take the reader out of the head space you’re attempting to create and may, or may not incite laughter/cringing.

Do write in a space that makes you comfortable. I have found that writing sex scenes in Burger King tends to make me feel a bit self-conscious. It just doesn’t lend itself to the mood I need to create in the same way that my living room does.

Do use music to help feed your muse. I always talk about music in my posts, I know, but I find that the correct series of songs does carry a scene quite well from my head to the page. I’m not saying we have to bust out the Prince/Marvin Gaye/Usher, but if that’s where your characters are mentally, go with the flow.

Do get up and take short breaks when the scene just isn’t coming (ahem). Get up, walk around, walk away from it on the page and in your head. Take a minute, get a snack, come back to it and keep going. If you force it, the reader can tell the moment the scene switches from a hot sex scene to an ‘insert tab A into slot B’ instruction manual. Unless you’re writing that type of thing, I’m pretty sure that’s not what you’re going for in this case.

Do, for the love of all that is holy (including, but not limited to, little fishes, cats, Nilla wafers, and graham crackers), make sure that the things you write are, in fact, anatomically possible. Nothing ruins a good sex scene like written visuals that make no sense physically. I have, on occasion, solicited assistance to make sure that what I’m writing and what I’m seeing in my head actually work. Alas, there have been occasions where the writing and the limitations of the physical body bore no relation to one another. I put that book down and wanted nothing more to do with it.*

*Caveat to the previous, if you’re writing about non-human entities, the dead, the undead, or formerly alive but not a zombie, shifters, whatnot, those rules are a bit looser. Given the amount of disbelief already suspended by the reader, you could probably push it a bit more, but still, keep in mind that you never want a reader to be thinking, “WTF?” while reading about your characters effing.

Finally, some important points overall:

This is about your characters and their physical expression of their feelings for each other. Keep in mind that just because it’s hot doesn’t mean they have to act differently than they would under other circumstances.

If you’re writing about kink, it would behoove you to read about the kink in which you’re interested. Lack of research becomes painfully obvious, and quickly, if you don’t take the time to do it. Understanding of the subject matter, context, and how the reality differs from the outside world’s perceptions of it will all lend an authenticity to the scene that will elevate the hotness to blistering heights.*

*Caveat, or rather, an illustrative anecdote. During a conversation recently with a friend of mine, she expressed her beef with the 50 Shades series. Paraphrasing, “It’s not realistic. Especially the after care. After care is so important when scenes are over, due to their level of intensity and potential (mental/emotional) trauma to the sub. You cuddle them, clean them up, help them come back to themselves and feel safe and secure again. You don’t just have an intense scene and then walk out like you don’t give a fuck. That’s just asshattery, that’s not BDSM.”

As a follow up to the previous, the aftermath of a sex scene is vital for really illustrating your characters. They’re emotionally vulnerable, physically spent, and disinclined to maintain their facades they show the world. To that end, the partner, and the reader, can really see the character for who they are. Capitalize on that.

Obviously, if you’re writing and you just cannot get over the mental hump (ahem), you can always cut to action off screen (so to speak), and then move on to the next scene.

Finally, the thing I’ve found to be most important when writing the scenes: if it makes you hot while writing it, it’ll make the reader hot reading it.

Connect with Alexis D. Craig on her web site/blog and on facebook, twitter and goodreads.

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Filed under CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE, EROTIC ROMANCE, EROTIC ROMANTIC THRILLER, EROTICA, Lachesis Publishing, ROMANCE AUTHOR, romance authors, romance books, ROMANCE FICTION, ROMANCE NOVEL, ROMANTIC SUSPENSE, SENSUALITY, SEX, SEXUAL CONTENT, SEXY, SUSPENSE, SUSPENSE THRILLER

What Inspires Your Writing by Lori Lapekes (contemporary romance author)

FOR A SHORT TIME COVEROur guest blogger today is Lachesis Publishing author Lori Lapekes. Lori is the author of the Lachesis contemporary romance called For a Short Time about a young woman who goes through many changes in her life, including realizing whom she truly loves.

Our ongoing topic is What Inspires Your Writing – welcome Lori Lapekes . . .

Hmmm, where do I get my inspiration to write . . .

An inspiration from real life I’m a bit embarrassed to admit came from fictionalizing an old friend in order to, well, “fix” her somehow through much trial and error in the novel to make her a better person. Yet later I was terrified she’d read the novel one day and recognize herself, and I wasn’t sure how she’d take it.

During that time I happened to read the blog of another author, (a very popular author,) whose antagonist in his latest novel was a dragon of a woman who was not only inspired from someone he knew, but patterned directly after her. At a book signing party, he was horrified to see her arrive, book in hand, and march up to him. Certain he’d get a verbal tongue lashing and a threat to sue; he could barely stand to look at her as she stood above him.

Then, she grinned. Sincerely. And said it was a truly fantastic novel, and she particularly liked the witchy woman character . . . she was such a vivid character, where did he ever come up with her?

Hah!

I could imagine, very well, that author’s relief, as well as confusion, I’m sure! And I was no longer afraid that the real person behind the inspiration for my main character in For a Short Time would be toilet-papering my house or keying my car. She never did connect herself with the character in the novel, and even promoted it a bit for me on Facebook. To my relief, just as my character in the novel, she did turn out to be a much kinder, more empathetic woman in real life.

Another inspiration began with disturbing dreams; a recurring dream without an ending. The dreams were near-nightmares from a real life drama, and to have closure, I needed to write it out. That book became the college tear-jerker, The Gingerbread Boy, and its feel good sequel, The Cinnamon Girl.

And yet another time, while standing in line at an estate auction in the country to buy my items and leave, I became aware of a tall young man in front of me with flowing brown hair, wide shoulders over a blue flannelled shirt, and an easy smile. There was just something about this man. Perhaps it was the calm, sunny afternoon in the country blended with what seemed like an ancient wisdom and mystery in the young man’s eyes . . . and I had it. Just like that he became the main character in a novel that had been percolating in my mind for some time, but I’d needed more inspiration for the hero. That novel became Secrets of Catalpa Hall.

I’m now working on a funky new adult novel, something of a switch for me. The inspiration for this came from vividly recalling my own days out of college, and the odd bunch I roomed with. One roomie in particular actually sort of becomes the novel, but I’m certain she’ll never know, that was many moons ago. But I also believe it may be the most fun, whimsical story I’ve ever written, even if it has murder, mayhem . . . and a potential maniac nicknamed “Goggleman” as a main character!

Connect with Lori Lapekes on her web site and on facebook.

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Sneak Peek Monday: New View by Lynn Jenssen in the Sisters of Spirit Anthology (women’s fiction/romance)

SISTERS-OF-SPIRIT-COVER-300x466I had the pleasure of editing  the lovely and lyrical Sisters of Spirit Anthology (Lachesis Publishing). The anthology features four stories about four very special friends. Written by four real life friends: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Annette Blair, Lynn Jenssen, Christine Mazurk (Lachesis Publishing author of Passion’s Race) and Jeanine Duval Spikes (also known as J.D. Spikes Lachesis Publishing author of The Possession).

What It’s About:

Four life-long friends face the biggest changes of their lives.

Four sisters—not related by blood—but by spirit, each embark on a quest

Four women find out what they’re truly made of, and what love really means.

In “New View” by Lynn Jenssen, a couple’s vow of “for better or worse” is tested to the max under the threat of overwhelming work stress, and marital misunderstandings. But when a danger threatens to tear them apart for good, they face their biggest trial of all.

In “Identity” by Christine Mazurk, a young woman embarks on a complete life-change after losing more than 100 pounds, and through a twist of fate finds herself training for a marathon under the guidance of a super sexy coach. But when she starts falling for the hunky trainer, can she trust her new-found confidence to take her to the finish line?

In “Shaman’s Shell” by Jeanine Duval Spikes, a spunky young woman finds a mystical Native American artifact that could change the course of an archeologist’s career. He wants what she’s got. She doesn’t know if she can trust him. But as an attraction builds between them, the mysterious artifact propels them to discover what they both truly need.

In “Moving Pictures” by Annette Blair, a down-but-never-out woman lands a much-needed job working for one of the top advertising agencies in the country. Her boss is an award-winning exec whose focus has been solely on work for the past few years, to the exclusion of everything else. She doesn’t know why, and he isn’t prepared to tell her. The more reclusive he is, the more determined she is to draw him out, but how can she fight the haunting ghosts of his past?

EXCERPT:

SOS. Her Sisters of Spirit. Whenever they got together, they giggled, and shared, teased, and played. Good times with good friends.

Marina laughed as she put on her whimsical beachcombing find—a pair of red children’s sunglasses with heart-shaped eyepieces—and modeled them for her friends. “How’s this? It’s a new look for me.” She primped her hair and struck a pose.

“Stunning! Who’s the designer?” Bryce teased.

“Seein’ life through rose-colored glasses?” Clara threw out a line.

“What about ‘blinded by luv?’” Anastasia added her quip.

Marina laughed and followed her friends as they made their way to the car. But the good-natured chatter between the friends soon faded as her vision fogged over and a scene flashed in her mind. Cameron, her husband of seven years, as white as the sheets he lay on, unmoving, unconscious. Fear and panic sickened her stomach and stole her breath. The antiseptic smell of a hospital stung her nose. The emotion-laden picture burned itself into her memory, then faded, and the buzz of her friends’ banter returned.

She took a deep, shuddering breath. What happened? She dared not tell the girls. They’d ask questions. They’d guess the truth.

The vision clung to her psyche, though she hid the disquiet behind a smile to her friends who continued the quips back and forth. She flipped the glasses onto her head, holding her hair away from her face, and concentrated on navigating the dirt road to avoid the biggest of the potholes. She listened as the others talked about their finds, but remained distracted by more than the road conditions.

Once they returned from their outing, the friends separated. Clara and Anastasia walked to the small market in search of ingredients for an impromptu dessert while Marina and Bryce stayed home to start dinner. She suspected they contrived the dessert trip to leave her alone with Bryce, who poured them each a glass of wine.

“Mare, what’s going on? I’m getting turmoil from you. Are you the one who sent the SOS?”

She sipped her wine, taking time to choose her words carefully. “That’s the problem. I don’t know what’s going on. But Cam and I . . . we . . . it’s not the same.” So much for careful word choice. Come on, Marina, be specific. She took another sip. Bryce waited. “We’ve always shared stories about our day when we get home. We laughed together. We listened to each other as we went for a walk or got dinner started.” That’s how it had always been.

She covered the salad and put it in the refrigerator. With the steaks marinating and the salad made, they moved to the deck to enjoy the spring breeze. Bryce prodded, “It feels like there’s more to the story.”

Marina sat on the chaise lounge and curled her legs up under her. “Since Cam got his promotion, things have changed. He comes home later, so we miss our chance to walk together, and I’ve already fixed dinner, sometimes eaten mine without him. He’s quiet and tired. We don’t share our day’s happenings. When I ask or try to talk, his response is minimal, like I’m an effort to talk to. He travels more than ever, and that’s been a strain, too. It’s getting worse. We’d hoped this new promotion would give us the financial stability to do the things we want and be together more. Instead we’ve grown apart; everything feels distant.”

She hated that her voice wobbled—she took another sip of wine to collect herself, but the liquid burned her throat as the tears pricked in her eyes. “I miss the old Cam. The one who laughs at my silly jokes, who makes me smile with a simple wink, the one who sends tingles down my spine with a single look. What’s happened to us?”

“I felt something troubling you.” Bryce reached over and took her hand. “I understand. What are you going to do?”

“Keep talking to him. I don’t know what else to do.” Sadness sat in the pit of her stomach. Bryce squeezed her hand and nodded. But Marina wondered about the vision. Did it symbolize his love for her had died?

Laughter and chatter came from the walkway leading to the house, so they knew the others were back from their mission, ending the conversation.

She took a deep breath and pulled herself away from her friends and quickly texted Cam. Marital concerns aside, she needed to know he was okay. A quick response—‘All’s well.’

With her friends on the island, she planned to enjoy their company and get re-invigorated by her writing. Tough writing romance when your own lacked. She didn’t want to dampen the mood, so she tried to hide her worries by smiling and keeping the attention focused on the others.

It didn’t work with Clara, who cornered her in the kitchen after dinner while they were washing dishes. “Are you okay? You seem kind of quiet this weekend.”

“Things with school, Cam’s new job is hectic, and a little overwhelming. We’re still trying to find a balance.” All true statements, but not the whole truth . . . though she wasn’t even sure what that truth was.

“Have faith. It’ll work out. Remember why you fell in love in the beginning. Keep that first in your heart.”

Later on, Anastasia rubbed Marina’s back and shoulders. “You’re tense. If you want to talk, you know I’ll listen.” Each of her Sisters recognized her heart’s disquiet and each in her own way offered support without prying.

As she tidied the house after their weekend on the island, the red sunglasses she’d found fell out of her jacket pocket. She smiled. “Seeing life through rose colored glasses . . .” She put them on her writing desk in the office. Maybe they’d inspire a happy love story next time she came out to the island to write.

They rushed to close up the house and catch the evening ferry. Marina had one more look around before locking up. “Bye, Mom. I’ll be back soon.” A touch of melancholy hit her. Still home.

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