Friday, December 11, 2015

HOLD ME CLOSE

With: Rosalind James

Congratulations to "Trude", the winner in Rosalind's giveaway. Thank you to all who participated!

HOLD ME CLOSE


Kayla Chambers knows what love is—and what it isn’t. When her boyfriend turns abusive, she and her son escape to a new life in a place where he’ll never find them. The idyllic town of Paradise, Idaho, has everything she needs to get back on her feet. Survival is her only goal, and the last thing she wants is another man in her life.

But Kayla’s new neighbor, high school principal Luke Jackson, is determined to change her mind. Luke usually takes the fast lane with women, but he can see that Kayla and her son need help, and he wants to earn her trust—even if that means taking things slow. He strikes up a friendship that soon simmers into something passionate and real. But when Kayla’s past catches up with her, Luke knows he has to find a way to keep her safe…or risk losing her forever.



Excerpt:

“What time is it?” 

“Eight. Plenty of time to win you a stuffed dog, if you like.” 

“Oh, really?” She cocked her head at him. “You sure? That’s a pretty big promise.” 

“I never make a promise I can’t keep. I sure wouldn’t make one to you. Baseballs in milk bottles, that’s my game. What do you say?” He swung her around by the hand, pointed up at a hideous pink dog with its tongue lolling out on the top shelf of a booth. “That your animal?” 

“So tempting,” she sighed. 

“Want to make the lady happy?” he heard from behind him. “I got your jewelry right here to get her feeling good. Pretty necklace, or a bracelet with your name on it. Let her know you care.” When they turned, the carnie went on. “Come on, make her night. Buy her a necklace. A pretty lady like that? Man, you got to get her into some sparkles.” 

Luke glanced at the racks of cheap jewelry. Heart-shaped metal disks that looked like nothing so much as dog tags, ID bracelets, rings in the shape of snakes and skulls for would-be tough guys. 

“Anything you like, engraved right here, right now.” The skinny carnie was talking even faster now at the prospect of a sale. “Aw, man, she’s so worth it. I can get your name right there on her wrist in five minutes. Buy her a present, man. You won’t regret it.” 

“What do you think?” Luke asked Kayla. “You worth it? Would that impress you?” 

All the animation had died out of her face. “No.” She tugged her hand out of his and turned away. 

It took him a couple strides to catch up with her. “You’re right,” he said. “You’re worth a whole lot more than that.” 

She swung around at him, all the gentle laughter, all the sweetness gone. “How much am I worth, then? Two hundred dollars? Eight hundred? Why does jewelry always have to be about buying a woman? That isn’t funny to me. It isn’t cute. I’m not for sale.” 

He stood and groped for something to say, and just like that, he saw the alarm cross her face. She hadn’t meant it to come out so strongly, he could tell. She hadn’t meant it to come out at all. “Wait. I . . . I’m sorry,” she stammered. “I didn’t mean to say that. After the bike and everything. I just meant—” 

“No. Don’t be sorry. I want to know how you feel. I hear you, I do. But I think jewelry can be about something else, too. I think there’s more than that. Isn’t there another answer?” 

She dropped her gaze. “Maybe. I don’t know.” The answer was as clear as if she’d said it. No. Except that she didn’t dare say it. She didn’t dare argue. 

He had to stop and think a minute. “How about if it—the jewelry, I mean—was about you?” he finally said. “Instead of about the guy giving it wanting something out of you? Would that make a difference?” 

“I don’t . . . I don’t know what you mean.” 

He needed her to know this. This mattered. It’s a ten-dollar bracelet, he told himself. And it’s worth fifty cents. But he didn’t care. 

“Will you trust me enough to wait for me a second?” he asked. “To let me show you?” 

“I know you’re not—” She was stumbling over the words. “I’m sorry. You’ve done so much already. My bike. Eli. I know you’re not—not that. I just—it’s just—” 

“Hi, Mr. Jackson!” 

He swore inside, closed his eyes, opened them, and said, “Hey. How you doing?” to the group of five or six seniors. He saw them taking in Kayla, nudging each other, and knew he’d be gossip fodder on Monday, that they’d all be asking each other who she was. And he didn’t care. 

“Wait there,” he told Kayla, ignoring the kids. “One minute. Or—all right.” He smiled at her, got the hint of a smile in return. “Maybe five.” 

He turned and went back to the booth, pulled his wallet out of his jeans, and the carnie said, “That’s more like it. Way to impress her, man,” and Luke rolled his eyes. 

He glanced over to where he’d left Kayla and shifted impatiently as the man put the bracelet onto the engraving machine. She wandered over to a ring-toss game, and when the attendant started trying to talk her into it, shook her head and moved along. If he wasn’t careful, he was going to lose her entirely. Over a bracelet. Over a stupid idea. 

He finally came up behind her again near the target-shooting booth. The group of kids was there, too, cheering on—or jeering at—Mike O’Meara as he aimed and shot and missed, aimed and shot and missed. 

Kayla turned at his touch on her shoulder, and he held out his hand. “This is what I mean.” He could tell that she didn’t want to, but she took the cheap metal ID bracelet from him, held it up, and read it in the harsh light. 

“Kayla,” she read, and then, “B & B. Um . . . what’s B & B?” 

He took a breath and put it out there, foolish as he felt. “Kayla, who’s brave and beautiful. Because this one’s about you, not about me. Because sometimes, jewelry is just about a man wanting to please a woman, wanting to show her what she means to him. Wanting to tell her something he can’t say with words, because he’s just a man, and we’re not too good at that. And sometimes, it doesn’t come with strings attached.” 

The lights, the noise, the crowd had faded, and he put his hand around hers, around the bracelet. “I’d love to put this on you,” he told her. “I’d love to know that you believed that. Even though it’s only a ten-dollar bracelet from a carnival. I’d love you to believe that I’m not trying to buy you. I’m trying to show you.” 

Her lips had parted, and he could see her breath coming hard, her chest rising and falling. His own heart galloped as he waited. Three seconds. Five. And then she turned her hand and dropped the bracelet into his palm, and he felt sick. Because he’d screwed up. 

“All right.” It wasn’t much more than a whisper. Her fingers uncurled, and she was standing there, her hand outstretched, and his heart was beating again. No, not beating. Pounding. 

He laid the cheap thing over her slim wrist, turned it so he could fasten it. It fell down low over her hand, and they both looked at it. 

Kayla B & B 

And if you wanted to talk about courage? It had taken all of hers to let him do this, and he knew it. He took her hand in his, felt her pulse racing in time with his own. And then, before he could stop himself, he was lifting her hand, brushing his lips over the back of it, and saying, “Thank you.” 

The voice came before she could answer. “Wow. He totally kissed her hand. Did you see that?” 

“That is so romantic. How come you never kiss my hand, Wesley?” 

“Because I don’t want to look like a total dork, maybe?” 

Kayla smiled, her hand still in his. “You’ve just lost all your street cred.” 

“And, see,” he said, smiling right back at her, “I don’t even care.”

Giveaway:
Rosalind will be giving away a digital copy of HOLD ME CLOSE to one person leaving a comment or email entry.

About Rosalind:
Rosalind James, a publishing industry veteran and former marketing executive, is an author of Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense novels published both independently and through Montlake Romance. She and her husband live in Berkeley, California with a Labrador Retriever named Charlie. Rosalind attributes her surprising success to the fact that "lots of people would like to escape to New Zealand! I know I did!"

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Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST Dec. 11th. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email maureen@justromanticsuspense.com with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.

                                      Check out more giveaways on the JRS SHOWCASE.

7 comments:

  1. Would love to win this!! vandine3atmsn.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Would love to win this!! vandine3atmsn.com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Sounds like a book I would enjoy reading! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  4. sounds interesting

    bn100candg at hotmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great excerpt!
    Thanks for the giveaway :)
    bubacka07(at)outlook(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Loved the excerpt!

    jtcgc at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Your title is intriguing!
    Jan

    Janet_Kerr(at) MSN.com

    ReplyDelete