Monthly Archives: November 2017

Second Chances – Blitz

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Second Chances cover

Contemporary Romance
Date Published: 11/30/17
Publisher: Carolina Blue Publishing
 
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 Dr. Charlotte Avery is the newest resident of Windsor Falls, North Carolina. Just back from the war-ravaged plains of Africa, Charlie only wants to settle into her new life and to reconnect with Elizabeth Fitzgerald, her best friend from residency. What she doesn’t expect, or need, is the instant attraction she feels for Elizabeth’s brother-in-law, Brendan. A single dad, Brendan Fitzgerald isn’t interested in anything that will further complicate his life. Will they be open to a second chance?
About the Author


Kimberley O’Malley is a recent transplant to Charlotte, North Carolina from the frozen North. She is learning to say y’all but draws the line at sweet tea. Sarcasm is an art form in her world. When not writing, she is a full-time nurse and part-time soccer Mom, but not necessarily in that order. She shares her life with an amazing husband of more than twenty years, two teenagers, and one very sweet Shetland Sheepdog, Molly.
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Faith Hunter’s FLAME IN THE DARK Blog Tour

 

About FLAME IN THE DARK:

Nell Ingram has always known she was different. Since she was a child, she’s been able to feel and channel ancient powers from deep within the earth. When she met Jane Yellowrock, her entire life changed, and she was recruited into PsyLED—the Homeland Security division that polices paranormals. But now her newly formed unit is about to take on its toughest case yet.


A powerful senator barely survives an assassination attempt that leaves many others dead—and the house he was visiting burns to the ground. Invisible to security cameras, the assassin literally disappears, and Nell’s team is called in. As they track a killer they know is more—or less—than human, they unravel a web of dark intrigue and malevolent motives that tests them to their limits and beyond.
Author: Faith Hunter
Publisher: Ace/Roc
December 5, 2017
Mass Market Paperback $7.99
352 pages
ISBN: 978-0451473332

Excerpts FLAME IN THE DARK – Part Seven

As a probationary agent, I wasn’t supposed to miss meetings, so I tossed some of my homemade granola into a plastic sealable bag and grabbed a carton of milk—which had horrified my mama the last time she was here. Good churchgoers drank only milk they took fresh out of the cow or goat, but I didn’t have time to care for animals or barter for essentials, so packaged and processed foods had entered my diet.

I was out the door roaring down the mountain in my Chevy pickup in minutes and was only a bit late to the meeting, even without turning on the new lights and siren mounted inside the cab and up on the roof. Rick had barely introduced the case, and was giving a summary of the particulars, when I thrust myself into my chair.

“Thank you for joining us, probie,” Rick said.

I didn’t much like apologizing for things I didn’t do on purpose. Traffic and sleeping and horrible work hours seemed a good reasons to be late, but I wouldn’t say that unless pushed. And telling him I was late because I had to clip my leaves seemed . . . unnecessarily comedic. I held in a grin and nodded.

“Something amusing to you, probie?” he asked.

“Not a thing. You’uns was sayin’? ‘’Acause I’m a listenin’ with all my ears,” I said in church -speak.

T. Laine coughed into her hand, covering an aggressive jaw, as if trying to hide a laugh. She said, “Our Nell’s learned snark.” Her dark eyes sparkled, a sure sign I was going to bear the brunt of her wicked sense of humor.

GIVEAWAY!

The tour giveaway is for 3 sets of the 1st 2 Soulwood books ( BLOOD OF THE EARTH and CURSE ON THE LAND ) and one $50 Amazon gift card (US residents only)!

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New York Times and USAToday bestselling fantasy author Faith Hunter was born in Louisiana and raised all over the south. Altogether she has 40+ books in print under the names Gary Hunter, Gwen Hunter, and Faith Hunter. As Faith, she writes two contemporary Urban Fantasy series: the Jane Yellowrock series, featuring a Cherokee skinwalker who hunts rogue vampires, and the Soulwood series, featuring earth magic user Nell Ingram. Her Rogue Mage novels are a dark, post-apocalyptic, fantasy series featuring Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage. The role playing game based on the series, is ROGUE MAGE, RPG.

 

Website: www.faithhunter.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/official.faith.hunter

Twitter: @hunterfaith

Yellowrock Securities: http://www.yellowrocksecurities.com

Gwen Hunter: www.gwenhunter.com

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KADE – Release Blitz

FEATURED BOOK!!
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KADE
DeAnn Smallwood
Series: Wyoming Brothers Book 1
Genre: Contemporary Western Romance
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Publication Date: September 13, 2017
Kade BOOK COVER
When the recently incarcerated Hope Jackson knocks on Kade McKune’s door, with three boxes of Girl Scout cookies in her hands, he has no clue his bitter, distrusting rancher’s world is about to be turned upside down.
Lied to and taken to the cleaners by a beautiful blonde, Kade has learned a hard lesson and slams the door to any possibility of a woman in his life. Aren’t they all liars? And Hope, with her lie of omission about her background, unknowingly fits that description.
Kade isn’t about to give her a chance to win his love and to convince him of her innocence. His beloved Double K ranch is doing just fine with the help of his seventy-eight-year-old Gran—the only woman he can trust. He sure doesn’t need Hope Jackson, a recently returned brother and baby girl, and three abused boys complicating things and resurrecting feelings long dead.
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Available now for $3.99 only. Grab your copy today.

Book Excerpt

Take an inside look at Kade with this thrilling excerpt.
Chapter 1
Kade leaned his lanky body against the barn door and scowled out at the drizzle melting into the already soaked earth. The alfalfa field in the distance was obscured by mist. He narrowed his eyes and leaned forward as if the extra few inches would help him peer through the gloom. A fat raindrop bouncing off his black felt hat was his reward. Ducking back, he muttered an obscenity.
The rain was needed; there was no doubt about it, but he resented the time stolen from him. Raking, tilling, planting, cleaning irrigation ditches, branding, moving cattle, and all the other myriad jobs were piling up. Work—a jealous mistress—tapped her foot impatiently.
“Waiting for me ‘cause there sure as hell isn’t anyone else standing in line to share the load.”
The corners of his mouth tipped up at the rare indulgence of self-pity. “Well,” he said belligerently, “it’s the truth.”
Voicing the fact made him feel justified and maybe just a bit better. Maybe.
One of the horses leaned his head out of the stall and nickered. Then, emphasizing the point, pawed the packed straw.
Kade registered the impatient sound and ignored it. Something he rarely did. King could wait. He and the other horses filling the stalls wouldn’t starve until he pitched a forkful of hay to them. Spoiled. They were all spoiled. But he wouldn’t have it any other way. They were his babies—his family. Although Gran and his two brothers might disagree.
The scowl deepened the hard planes of his face—a face that wore the seasons of the ever-changing, fickle, Wyoming weather. Fine lines creased the corners of his eyes. His skin was permanently tanned, courtesy of the high mountain sun and snow- whipping winds. And in unguarded moments, furrows of worry wrinkled his brow. Responsibility hung heavy on those wide shoulders.
His eyes ranged from cold, unreadable blue to deep cobalt, the color of the summer sky. They could look through you with a bone-chilling gaze or make you want to bask in their penetrating warmth. Rarely, though, did they reflect what he was thinking. He kept his thoughts private. The only exception being unguarded moments when they lovingly roamed the open spaces and land that surrounded and made up the Double K Ranch.
The name always brought a weak smile to his thin lips. The Double K was named by his parents Kurt and Kandy McKune. Then they had him, and with their zany zest for life and optimistic personalities, named him Kade. In time, it was to become The Triple K. However, time is a tease and doesn’t march to any drummer but its own.
Hard work, treacherous seasons, and the mind-numbing vagaries of ranch life contributed to tarnishing his parents’ optimism. Thus, when his brothers, Declan and Morgan, were born, they received names that sprouted from their mother’s love of reading and the fictional characters that captured her imagination sometime during the nine months she carried them. They were also as different from Kade as their names.

Giveaway

WIN $25 GIFT CARD AND MORE
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Prizes up for grabs:
$25 Amazon Gift Card
Kade by DeAnn Smallwood (Print copy)
Hurry! Join now!
Contest runs from November 29 – December 5, 2017.

About DeAnn Smallwood

DeAnn Smallwood

DeAnn Smallwood lives in Colorado with her husband and their two Yorkies, Stormy and Eli. She is a native of Colorado but has lived in Montana and Wyoming. Her greatest pleasure next to writing is having her books read and enjoyed. Be sure to check out books written under her pen name: D.M. Woods. There you’ll find her first two novels in the “Death” series of romantic/thrillers: Death Crosses The Finish Line & Death Is A Habit. She currently has seven western historical romances published and two contemporary westerns. Her third and new contemporary western, the first book of three in The Wyoming Brothers Series, titled KADE has just been released. DeAnn is working on the second book in this series titled: DECLAN. DeAnn says there are many more books just waiting to be written and shared.
Connect with DeAnn Smallwood on social media:

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TWISTED THREADS – Release Blitz

Twisted Threads Tour Graphic
TWISTED THREADS
Kaylin McFarren
Series: Threads Book 4
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Creative Edge Publishing LLC
Publication Date: November 20, 2017
The only thing sweeter than a secret is revenge
Twisted Threads cover
A family becomes an assassin’s target after a crime lord’s sister is brutally murdered in Kaylin McFarren’s latest erotic, psychological thriller, Twisted Threads.
Akira Hamada, a beautiful Japanese geisha, failed at killing Kaito Mitsui two years ago – the same yakuza gang leader who destroyed her lover and forced her to become an assassin. Now, with his sister’s murderer traveling to the Caribbean on a cruise ship, Akira has ten days at sea to identify her target and complete her assignment as her penance, or face her own death.
Devon Lyons, unaware that his aunt and uncle could be singled out and murdered, brings Akira into their lives. In searching for evidence to justify Mitsui’s revenge, she soon discovers that no one is who they seem to be. All the while, Devon is drawn into the mystery of mounting deaths on board the ship, putting his own life at risk.
With killers on the loose and no avenue for escape, tension is ratcheted to a breaking point, forcing everyone to choose between love and loyalty – or deeply held honor – in order to survive.

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Praise for Twisted Threads

Twisted Threads is a titillating page-turner that captivates from start to finish, and never fails to stimulate the senses.
– Brittney Decker, Foreword Reviews/Clarion Review

A tantalizing glimpse into a secret world of desire. Dive deep into the layers of this intoxicating blend of twisted pleasure and intricate mystery. Edgy, fierce, and undeniably stimulating.
– Alicia Tomelloso, San Francisco Book Review

Twisted Threads delivers a story full of suspense, lively, complex characters, and a sexy, fun-filled adventure. Followers of McFarren’s Threads series will be thrilled, and readers of this divertingly different, first-class murder mystery will be too.
– Angela Fox, Publisher, Clackamas Review/Oregon City News

An intelligent crime thriller infused with thwarted love and desperate desires, Twisted Threads makes a worthy new companion to McFarren’s earlier creations – Severed Threads, Buried Thread, Banished Threads.
– Barbara Bamberger Scott, Editor, A Women’s Write

A sexy mystery that brings the timeless themes of murder, revenge and family loyalty to the high seas. A great series for fans of romantic suspense.
– Bella Wright, BestThrillers.com

Book Excerpt

Take an inside look at Twisted Threads with this thrilling excerpt.
Killing Time
Blood streamed down the side of Akira Sato’s face at an alarming rate, mixing bright red against the white porcelain tub. As the showerhead splayed hot water over her body, she watched it with strange fascination, circling and disappearing through tiny holes in the drain. She picked up a white washcloth and mindlessly scrubbed against her narrow waist until her skin turned bright pink. Then she lowered the coarse cloth and rubbed longer than usual at the triangle of black hair between her legs and upper thighs, stopping only when it became painful. At least on the outside she felt cleaner, but inside was a different matter.
The consequences of her actions could not be remedied, nor could they be wiped away. Yet despite her resolve for this justified killing, she remained lost in a sea of hopelessness…incapable of seeing a way out.
Then why are you still here? Pick up your sword and end it now. The words echoed in her mind, taunting and teasing. She didn’t care about anything…or anyone. Why should she? Mitsui had insisted all ties be cut with the people she had once loved, including the Buddhist monk she might have married.
She poured a generous amount of shampoo into the palm of her hand and lathered her long black hair, gingerly touching the wound her victim had inflicted. The gash in her scalp would disappear in due time, just like her other scars. But the bloody slaughter in the living room had left a horrible mess and would need to be addressed before she left the house.
After thoroughly rinsing her hair, she worked on her face with the bar of lavender soap, removing the black eyeliner, blue eye shadow, and whorish red lipstick she had applied for Kurosaki’s benefit. It wasn’t fair by any means, but there was no going back to the naive geiko she had been. With eight deaths to atone for in her afterlife, she was cursed in both worlds and simply waiting to die at the hands of another assassin. She squeezed her eyes shut and pressed her back against the cold white tile, hugging herself as water washed away her tears.
She heard a muffled sound in the next room and turned off the water. After easing the shower door open, she strained her ears and heard nothing, but her instincts told her otherwise. She stepped onto the bamboo grate covering the stone floor and grabbed the katana sword resting against the wall. The sound of someone rapidly approaching increased her heart rate. Her right hand shook involuntarily, yet she managed to remain calm. The bathroom door flew open suddenly, exposing two members of Kurosaki’s gang.
The first man stared at her, snarling. “You murder a man in his home and have the nerve to use his shower? What kind of monster are you?” He reached for her arm while the second man stood back watching—his coal-black eyes piercing her skull.
“The worst kind,” Akira spat. She drew her sword with lightning speed, beheading the first one with a one-handed horizontal cut. Blood sprayed over the mirror above the sink. She dropped her sheath and held the sword in front of her with both hands. The second man’s face paled, and his jaw slacked. He remained motionless for endless seconds before charging at Akira with a knife stretched out before him. With one swift movement, she raised her sword above her head and brought it down hard and fast across his neck. She pulled the blade back, sending blood spraying across her face.
Another body fell to the floor.
Akira could feel sweat gathering at the base of her spine. She wiped her eyes with her forearm to clear her vision. Tears threatened to break loose and destroy the fortification she’d built.
The voice was back in her head, moving her forward. Keeping her from crumpling into a pitiful mess. Don’t be a fool. Finish the job you were sent here to do.
She found two capsules in the outside pocket of her bag and popped them into her mouth. It took nearly a minute for the numbing effects to take hold. Then she set to work dragging bodies from the house and dropping them into the pit she had found in the woods. When she was finished, she stepped into the shower to wash the dirt and blood off a second time. After cleaning the bathroom floor and walls and scrubbing the living room thoroughly, she dumped all the evidence into the pit outside and set everything ablaze with a match and a bottle of Chateau Guiraud. Her only salvation rested in the fact that Kurosaki’s nearest neighbor lived too far away to witness the gruesome scene and strange smell filling the air.
A cool breeze touched her skin. Too cool. She looked down at herself and was instantly reminded of her nudity, forgotten with the work she’d undertaken. A nervous laugh escaped her lips, and once more she found herself questioning her sanity.

Other Books by Kaylin McFarren

Be sure to check out the other books in the Threads series.
Severed Threads cover
Severed Threads (Book One)
A deep-sea diving expedition turns deadly, leaving bodies in the wake of this page-turning treasure hunting adventure
Buy Link: Amazon.com
“With plenty at stake, erotic chemistry, dastardly villains, a lost relic, an unusual setting, and a touch of the supernatural, this indie novel could stand on any romance publisher’s shelf. The full package of thrills and romance.”
– Kirkus Reviews
Buried Threads cover
Buried Threads (Book Two)
Overcoming death threats by the Japanese mafia is only the beginning in this heart-racing, action-packed thriller
Buy Link: Amazon.com
“If you’re a fan of murder mysteries but eschew the usual genre-formatted adventures that offer too-predictable protagonists and not enough depth, it’s time to take a look at Buried Threads: a horse of another color. More than a murder mystery, this mingles a treasure hunt, an international race against time, a dark prophecy, Japanese culture, erotic encounters and a clever killer’s modus operandi into a story that just won’t quit.”
– Diane Donovan, Senior Editor, Midwest Book Review
Banished Threads cover
Banished Threads (Book Three)
A romantic escape to England is far from restful when the lives of family members hang in the balance
Buy Link: Amazon.com
” Readers will get quite a thrill from McFarren’s latest Threads novel! Chase and Rachel are back in this fast-paced romantic suspense, based in an art gallery in England. It’s full of family drama, stolen art, kidnapping, and even more exciting sex between the globetrotting couple. The story moves along at a brisk pace with plenty of peripheral characters to keep things interesting.”
– Romantic Times

Giveaway

WIN $50 GIFT CARD AND MORE
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5 Prizes up for grabs:
$50 Amazon Gift Card
Severed Threads (eBook)
Buried Threads (eBook)
Banished Threads (eBook)
Twisted Threads (eBook)
Hurry! Join now!

About Kaylin McFarren

Kaylin McFarren

Kaylin McFarren has received more than forty national literary awards, in addition to a prestigious Golden Heart Award nomination for Flaherty’s Crossing – a book she and her oldest daughter, Kristina McMorris, co-authored in 2008. Prior to embarking on her writing journey and developing the popular Threads action/adventure romance series, she poured her passion for creativity into her work as the director of a fine art gallery in the Pearl District in Portland, Oregon; she also served as a governor-appointed member of the Oregon Arts Commission. When she’s not traveling or spoiling her pups and three grandsons, she enjoys giving back to her community through participation and support of various charitable and educational organizations in the Pacific Northwest, and is currently the president of the Soulful Giving Foundation – a non-profit focused on cancer research, care and treatment at hospitals throughout Oregon.
Connect with Kaylin McFarren on social media:

Schedule

From November 30 – December 20, 2017.
Visit each stop daily and discover more features, excerpts, reviews, interviews, fun facts and more!
To check the latest tour schedule, visit the Twisted Threads Book Page at Book Unleashed.

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The Nevada Escapists’ Club – Blitz

The Nevada Escapists’ Club banner
The Nevada Escapists’ Club cover
A psychological thriller for women
Date Published: Out soon
Run, fight your fear and make a new life
When a man saves a woman, sometimes she must rescue him too… Zac senses the connection he has with the single stranger within minutes of their meeting. She, like him, needs a place to escape.   Ali falls into a holiday affair. But what happens when the Las Vegas fantasy is over and her sunglasses tinted view of the world returns to reality? She is supposed to forget everything… It was meant to stop there
Excerpt
 
Alison
Chapter 1
‘Remember to forget,’ the signs in the Las Vegas airport yelled at me from every direction.
That was why I was here, to forget. Only I wanted to forget everything I had left at home.
‘But I chose you!’ Joseph’s words shouted through my head.
‘It was not your choice!’ Had been my last words to him before I had slammed the door.
The person who had the affair, the adulterer, was not the one who was able to choose whether the marriage carried on.
If he had told me at the time, if I had known then, maybe I would have chosen to stay. But two years afterwards…
He should have been honest then. It should have been my choice then.
Now it was my choice and I had chosen to walk out and fly to Las Vegas.
I was running away with my hands covering my eyes and ears. See no, hear no evil. But I didn’t care. I had lost me somewhere. I wanted her back. I was trying to find me again because the foundation I had worked so hard to build my current life on had been a lie for the last two and a half years. I thought I had been a respected woman at work and a loved wife. Instead, I had been cheated on and lied to, and nearly everyone around me knew.
I wanted to shout and scream for the sake of screaming—to let the anger tearing at me get to the outside. I hoped, in the noise of Las Vegas, my screaming would be drowned out.
Today I didn’t love Joseph anymore, and today I did not think I ever would again. He had stamped on my heart and crushed the love out of it. He did not deserve for me to care what he felt. But maybe tomorrow that would change. I did not understand how to respond when someone declared that they’d had an affair that had ended two years before but that they had stayed with you because they had realised how much they loved you. Two years ago!
This was my time to choose whether I loved him enough to forgive him for something that had happened in the past.
For now, though, I was going to forget about him and spend money. If I did sue for divorce he did not deserve to have any of the money I had been saving for four years. It was meant to be for my future. I would rather ruin that and waste it all than let him have half.
When I walked out of the airport’s air-conditioned hall, Las Vegas’s heat and humidity hit me; it had been a gloomy, showery April day in London.
I was here, in the USA. It was my first time. I was a Las Vegas and American virgin.
I smiled for the benefit of no one but myself.
This was me.
This was the me who stood up in front of bad people and helped deliver justice. This me was strong, and she had come here to prove to herself that she could be alone and not scared.
My fingers tightened their hold on the handle of the suitcase. A suitcase was the only thing I had left to hang on to. I had taken every lifeline away from myself by coming here. But I needed to prove to myself that I could do this.
The heels of my stilettos clicked on the tarmac as I walked towards the taxis.
I was here, and I was here to gamble and go wild. If I wanted to. I could do anything here. No one judged in Las Vegas. That was the saying that had brought me here to buy into it. I did not want to be judged; I just wanted to be and not have to think.
The taxi driver got out to take my case and put it in the car boot.
I slid into the back of the taxi without anything to hold on to.
‘Where to, ma’am?’ he said when he dropped into the driver’s seat.
I told him the name of the hotel.
The second thing I discovered about Las Vegas, other than that it was hot, was that the middle of it was much smaller than I had expected. My eyes looked left to right and back again as the taxi travelled. Everything was more spacious than London, the streets were wide and mountains stretched into the sky in the distance. There was no distance in London.
It took fifteen minutes to reach the hotel. I paid the driver. He collected the case from the boot. Then I was left on my own on the pavement holding on to my suitcase. The taxi had crossed the main street where everything exciting must happen but I was at the back of the hotel. Here, it was just queues of vehicles dropping people off or waiting to pick them up.
My tongue stuck to the dry roof of my mouth. I tried to swallow when I turned around and walked in.
How many people came to Las Vegas alone?
The man who booked me in at the reception desk honoured the Las Vegas escapists’ code and didn’t even raise an eyebrow at my aloneness. He smiled and asked if I would like to go on any tours while I was here, book a show or a table in the restaurant?
I refused everything. I wanted to explore and understand Las Vegas before I planned anything. I was cautious. It had taken me six months to accept Joseph’s invite to go on a date and he had flattered me constantly at work and bought me thoughtful gifts until I had finally believed he was real. Only to discover four years later that he was not real.
The hotel room was spacious. A queen-size bed, sofa, and desk furnished the bedroom, and a walk-through wardrobe, with one side of mirrors, lined the route to a bathroom. It had a sense of an apartment. Which was good because I had not booked a flight home. I might decide to stay for weeks or months if I chose not to go back to Joseph.
I put my case on the bed and unzipped it, hung up my evening dresses, put my T-shirts, skirts, shorts and underwear in the drawers, then put my makeup out on the vanity table in the dressing area. I took my toothbrush into the bathroom and then it all seemed final. That was the moment when I believed I had separated from Joseph.
And I was in Las Vegas!
My heartbeat pounded in my arteries, ringing in my ears.
I faced myself in the bathroom mirror.
‘You do not deserve me, Joseph.’
The scar on the left side of my throat caught my eye. I looked away from it, at the reflection of my face. A voice that Joseph had stirred up spoke of ugliness and uselessness.
I turned away from the mirror, from that insecure woman. I didn’t want to be her. I had cut off her hair years ago, when she had first run away, thrown out her clothes and become someone new.
‘The Las Vegas me,’ I said aloud to silence the voice, as I walked into the bedroom, ‘she is strong.’ I would fight this, and maybe I would make myself someone different again when I went home. Although I couldn’t cut my hair any shorter unless I shaved it off.
I picked out a black cocktail dress that was covered in sequins. I’d bought it for an office party three years ago. The Christmas before I had married Joseph.
The memory made me hang it back up.
I put on an electric blue dress that I had bought for my sister’s forty-fifth birthday party. The fabric had a satin texture with a tuck at one side of the waist. It had a flattering, but not flirtatious, pencil skirt and embraced me beneath and over my bosom. The short sleeves cupped the tops of my shoulders. I looked good in the mirror. The colour pulled out the blue in my eyes and the low V-neckline set off the way my blonde hair was styled to taper at my nape. It made my neck look longer. My gaze caught on the scar at the base of my throat. I looked into my eyes.
I didn’t want to look good for the benefit of anybody else, just for me.
At home I spent hours in gyms and beauty salons because those things helped pin me together.
But Joseph’s affair had sprinkled doubt in my head like a packet of cress seeds. The jumbled twisted roots of negative thoughts were growing through my mind in a tangle of confusion. I didn’t trust anything. If my past had been different perhaps I could forgive him—instead I had travelled halfway around the world to run from the pain. Not him. I had not run from him. I had run from me.
Makeup.
Put a face on. Hide the reality. I could cover up anything with makeup. I had done it for years.
I did it tastefully, with natural colours, setting a glow to my skin beneath the powder. I could be me.
I looked at my full-length image.
No, I can’t.
I sat down on the bed. My hands clasped the back of my head as I leaned over, cowed. My spirit was so knocked it wanted to drag me down on to the floor. Why had Joseph done it? I had believed he’d loved me. I had been tricked. How could I be who I had been two weeks ago?
Because I could not let this crush me.
I had to fight.
I straightened up, my hands falling, then stood. It was just about strength. I had to be strong.
Dutch courage would help.
I had bought a bottle of gin from the duty free on the plane. It was in the wardrobe to stop me from being tempted to drink it too early in the day. It was not early now and if I was going to walk downstairs my legs needed gin to start moving.
The screw cap was stiff but after a moment it twisted loose. I drank several mouthfuls from the bottle. The hit from the alcohol shivered through my blood. Then I screwed the lid back on and put the bottle away. Joseph had said sometimes I drank like an alcoholic. Sometimes I did but I think my life justified that, sometimes.
‘Just get out of this room and go to the casino, the noise will fill your head and you won’t feel trapped anymore.’ I said the words to the woman in the mirror. ‘You know if you stay here tonight you’ll never build up the courage to go out on your own.’ The determined voice slapped my bottom, making me move.
I walked over to put some shoes on and selected the highest heels. Then picked up my handbag and the room key from the vanity table in the dressing area by the door.
I clasped the door handle.
‘Go.’
I opened the door and walked out before I lost courage.
The room was at the far end of a hall and it meant I had a long walk to the lifts. Courage and strength of mind was all I needed.
The two couples who shared the lift with me talked and laughed, expressing how excited they were to be in Las Vegas.
I should be excited too. I should think about that. As I rode down, standing in the corner because the couples filled up the rest of the space, I held my handbag in front of me like a shield. The bag tapped against my stomach with the tremble in my hands.
The lift doors opened and the noise of the casino swept in, music, loud voices and the tunes of the electronic gaming machines.
My heart jumped, joining the rhythm of the background music. I forced my legs to walk me out of the lift on to the gaudy brown and gold patterned carpet.
There were a few empty tables in the room but most of the tables had groups of people around them. One craps table was surrounded by about twenty men watching a woman throw the dice. A couple of the roulette tables had crowds watching too.
‘Before you lose your nerve, get some chips,’ I whispered the words at myself, trying to keep my legs moving and my lungs breathing. I did not want to panic here.
A woman who had come out of the lift ahead of me looked back.
The strange single woman was now talking to herself.
I smiled. She smiled back.
It was Las Vegas. I had come here because if I could not be weird here, then where?
At the cashier window, I was going to hand over a hundred dollars, but—why hold back? I used my bank card and changed a thousand. Once I had the chips in my hand I turned around, looking at all the tables. The only game I knew anything about was blackjack, and the blackjack tables were the quietest.
There was a blackjack table with no players in a corner right at the back on the far side of the room. If I went there, less people would be likely to cross the room and join the game. My heart pounded again as I wove through the tables with a slow, high-heeled enforced sashay.
A finish line sign dropped from the ceiling above the table and I was running, in slow motion, to reach a ribbon I could tear through. Just a few more meters without anyone else noticing I was alone and out of place.
My eyes focused on one of the high, long-legged chairs. I had to climb on to that chair in a pencil skirt. My new concern was not reaching the table but getting on the chair without falling or tearing my dress.
When I reached it, I put my bag on the table and navigated the ascent with as much class as I could.
I was on it, and I was here, doing this.
I looked at the croupier.
The young man smiled.
About the Author

Jane Lark is a nominee for the best Romantic Historical Fiction Novel 2017, and a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional Historical and Contemporary Novels, and a Kindle top 25 bestselling author in America
Jane started several novels when she was younger and never finished them. When she reached the age of thirty she didn’t want to hit forty and still be saying I’ve always wanted to write a novel. She put it on her to do before I’m forty list and she hasn’t looked back since.
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