Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Publication Date: October 22, 2018
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About W.L. Brooks
“Are you still angry?” I asked him.
“Giving the bread away to those people.”
He shook his head against the quilt.
“No, Thais, I’m not still angry.”
After a moment, he said, “Thais?”
“Don’t ask me to kiss you again.”
I paused, tensed. “Why not?” I was afraid of the answer.
We continued to look up at the stars. Behind us the horses whickered and their tails swished about. A light breeze combed through the trees, carrying the bitter and sweet scents of pine and honeysuckle with it.
Finally, Atticus answered, “Because whatever you want from me, Thais, I’d rather you just take it.”
I wanted to cry.
I smiled to myself instead.
The heart has a home when it has an ally.
If Millie Crossan doesn’t know anything else, she knows this one truth simply because her brother Finley grew up beside her. Charismatic Finley, eighteen months her senior, becomes Millie’s guide when their mother Posey leaves their father and moves her children from Minnesota to Memphis shortly after Millie’s tenth birthday.
Memphis is a world foreign to Millie and Finley. This is the 1970s Memphis, the genteel world of their mother’s upbringing and vastly different from anything they’ve ever known. Here they are the outsiders. Here, they only have each other. And here, as the years fold over themselves, they mature in a manicured Southern culture where they learn firsthand that much of what glitters isn’t gold. Nuance, tradition, and Southern eccentrics flavor Millie and Finley’s world as they find their way to belonging.
But what hidden variables take their shared history to leave both brother and sister at such disparate ends?
Moments after the cathedral front doors banged open, I heard a commotion downstairs followed by the clatter of hard heels tapping across the black-and white tiled entrance hall, until they fell cat-like to a muted padding across the parlor and ended with a clatter in the adjoining card room.
I crept down the serpentine front stairs to see Finley pushing through the beveled glass doors that partitioned the entrance hall from the back hallway. Finley and I had an uncanny, almost telepathic way of pursuing the same moment.
We looked at each other wordlessly, listening to the cawing of Stella Richmond from the big Tudor house across the street, who’d come to fetch her husband home. It was ten o’clock on a Tuesday night. Earlier Danny Richmond had taken it upon himself to walk across the street and chivalrously offer his assistance to the unmarried Posey for whatever she may need, right in the middle of the cocktail hour.
Hours transpired, the sun had set, dinner had been forgotten, and there the two sat, drinking and chatting as if they had all the time in the world. “Danny Richmond, how dare you? And how dare you, Posey?” Stella raged, glaring at her husband. “You get yourself home right now, and I’m not speaking to either of you any time soon after what you’ve put me through.” Stella Richmond was not the kind of woman who ever meant “maybe,” and her sphere of not speaking came to include Finley and me.
Many months passed before she looked either of us in the eyes without suggesting our guilt by association, and for a while I innocently assumed word of that episode had ricocheted among the twenty-six homes in Kensington Park, which I thought explained others’ cold glances. I had no way of knowing similar episodes had transpired, with wandering husbands in search of my mother. She probably should have discouraged the attention instead of soaking it in.
If she had, she might not have lost her childhood best friend, Shuggs, whose only contribution to the rift was telling her husband that Posey was looking for a new car. The ways of the South, I was to learn, were such that upon hearing word of a single woman in need, the only gentlemanly thing to do was offer assistance, which is exactly what Virgil did, to his wife’s tufted pride.
For the first week, Shuggs was magnanimous and happy her husband could help. She yielded agreeably when he went to Kensington Park after work instead of coming straight home. Shuggs reported the arrangement to all her friends, and basked in the recognition she received for the security she enjoyed in her foolproof marriage.
But as time stretched on, her goodwill became tested. She avoided the clock and battened down her emotional hatches as the weeks multiplied, and tried to talk herself into justifying the cocktails Virgil stayed for after making the dealership rounds. This worked until the schedule became a habit and her benevolence wore thin. By the fourth week, Shuggs had lost compassion. By the fifth week, she had none at all.
Meanwhile, after some time, covering a surprisingly large distance, the timid boy stumbles into an open area filled with stone floor and fragmented temples. Many half broken statues, bearing images of horrific creatures can be seen, still standing as though they were once worshipped. Clover sits to his knees among the abandoned ruins, crying amidst the eerie night.
Clover: (Gideon has his father, Kibishi has his job to do and Albion has his family elsewhere, but what do I have? The only thing I want to do is stay together – forever. If going to Valero means to leave Gideon’s side, I would rather stay in this big old forest for the rest of my life. Why don’t they understand, I don’t even know who I am. What will I do with myself once I am all alone?)
At that moment, Clover hears footsteps coming from behind. He turns around to see Gideon standing with the adult tiger – white as snow. The young boy shows a stern face as he looks upon Clover who now twiddles his fingers.
Gideon: Clover… what on earth are you doing, running so far away from the rest of us? Don’t you know it is dangerous to go off on your own?
Clover: Gideon, what are you doing here with Ramza?
The blonde haired boy strokes the feline while answering the worried boy.
Gideon: Ramza is accompanying me while I look for you and bring you back! The sad boy rises to his feet before stepping backward, refusing Gideon.
Clover: No, I won’t return. You’re only going to leave me alone in the end. You heard what Albion said about us all disbanding. When I tried to talk to you all about it, none of you disputed it. It feels like nobody cares – at all.
Gideon is slow to reply as he strolls towards Clover.
Gideon: Listen to me… Clover. We all care about each other and I’m sure none of us want to split up. I too wish we could all stay together – in some way. However, the realities of our situations are so complicated, it can’t be helped. Albion is not even from this land, stumbling here by accident and plans to return home with his brothers – once they’re found. Kibishi is only aiding me on my journey, yet he has his own vendetta against the Tetsue Empire who is keeping someone dear to him held captive. Finally my whole reason for travelling in the first place was to meet my father. We all have our own reasons that drive us forward. Unfortunately, they do not all coincide with one another.
Clover: But what if you don’t have any reason like that? The only thing I remember was being rescued by you. Now I have to face the prospect of being alone, without even knowing my past. Won’t you let me stay with you and your father?
Leaning against the side of a stonewall, Gideon replies while looking up at the twinkling stars.
Gideon: That would be nice and I am quite sure my father wouldn’t mind at all, however I would be lying if I told you that your presence wouldn’t attract bad attention.
Savior (Book Two)
Thanks to Kibishi’s help, Gideon was able to know the truth of his father. However, before they have time to accept his fate, Kenoke appears – bringing to light a sinister ambition.
Buy Link: Amazon
She succumbed to his kiss, a kiss initially sweet intensifying to heady passion. His arms tightened around her. Her arms already raised to encircle them around his shoulders. She’d forgotten the feeling his kisses inspired, making clear thought challenging. She had to stop. Brad was her betrothed. She pushed against his chest, pulling her mouth away from his heated lips.
“No, Jared, I can’t.”
He pressed his mouth to the side of her neck moving toward her ear. “There’s no harm in kissing, Taryn.”
He was right. There was no harm in kissing if her promise wasn’t to another man. Now was the time to tell him about Brad. She weakened with the heat of his scorching kisses. A part of her wanted to tell him. Still, she hesitated. She was being unfair not to explain why she kept rebuffing his advances. Yet, it was equally unfair to Brad to allow anyone else to kiss her. “Jared, no!” She pushed away from him.
“Taryn…?” He outstretched his hand.
“No, I can’t!” She rushed toward the house.
Stunned into immobility, he stared at her fleeing form. What had he done? He pulled out a cheroot from his pocket, lighting and inhaling, completely baffled by her reaction. One moment she was on fire with the passion she was capable of expressing, and the next instant turned cold. Why did it matter so much? He had never concerned himself so in the past with women he pursued. If one lacked the interest, he simply moved onto another. This new concern was completely inconsistent with his character! Women had always been readily available. Women of all types and varying backgrounds. Taryn proved different. Refined one moment, a hellcat the next. Half the time, if not all the time, she deserved a sound crack across her backside. Something he determined she’d never received. Defiant and rebellious, she also displayed vulnerability. She was too damn confusing for his taste. She kept him totally at odds which was a new experience, and one he didn’t care for at all.